Bladenboro gets good news from audit

By: By Gabrielle Isaac -
Gabrielle Isaac|The Robesonian Brooks Yandle and Chief Chris Hunt

BLADENBORO — Commissioners with the town of Bladenboro discovered that the town’s funds had increased just slightly since the 2013-2014 fiscal year, according to an audit completed by Byron Scott, the town’s certified public accountant.

Scott said there were no problems that he and his team ran into during the process, but he said the town has trouble in one area.

“Your fund balance percentage is low and that needs to be tweaked,” he said. “That percentage needs to be built up.”

Scott said Bladenboro’s fund balance percentage sits around 14 percent, with the state wanting it to sit at around 74 percent for municipalities of similar sizes. Melanie Hester, the town clerk and finance officer, said the fund balance percentage is not a new problem.

“Hopefully this new year will alleviate some of that problem,” she said.

Aside from the low fund balance percentage, Scott also said the personnel working with the town is also low in accordance with what the state generally sees as fit. There are three people working in town hall, including Hester, Town Administrator John O’Daniel and Pamela Bowen, tax collector and utility clerk.

Scott said hiring another person may not be ideal because the town is so small and may not be able to afford it. Instead, Scott suggested that the commissioners get more involved, something that Hester says is already taking place.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Watched a presentation from Chief Chris Hunt from the Bladenboro Police Department. Hunt presented an award to Officer Brooks Yandle, who performed CPR on an unresponsive male on Nov. 27 after calling for emergency services. Hunt said the man took a deep breath just before emergency services arrived. Yandle was also commended for his act by every county commissioner.

— Watched as Commissioners Patsi Callihan and Sarah Benson were sworn in for another term, while Gene Norton and Cris Harrelson were sworn in for their first terms on the board.

— Heard from Charles Benton, a resident of Bladenboro who asked the board to consider repairing pot holes on Grief Street.

— Heard from Bill Lester from LKC Engineering out of Aberdeen who discussed a consideration for a sewer use and pre-treatment cost and permit. He said the town’s sewer ordinance needs to be brought up to date to include pre-treatment requirements. A detailed permit would also need to be drawn up with Carroll Poultry. He said the sewer treatment would cost around $14,000 to start.

— Decided to have trees that are planted along E&W Railroad streets removed by the town. O’Daniel said many truck drivers had complained about not being able to see around the overgrown trees, requesting that the trees be pruned by the town. The pruning would cost $7,600 to groom the 19 trees, but, because many of the trees were already damaged, the board decided to pay a similar cost to get them removed.

— Approved a one-year contract with Walter’s Farms, a company that applies cover crops on the towns’ spray fields.

— Heard from O’Daniel who recommended the board not hire someone to manage the towns’ parks. He said hiring someone for that job would result in the town having to pay $30,000 to $32,000 a year. The commissioners did decide to open bids to put up two concession stands and to charge everyone but Dixie Youth Baseball $20 per hour to use the lights in the parks.

Gabrielle Isaac|The Robesonian Brooks Yandle and Chief Chris Hunt Isaac|The Robesonian Brooks Yandle and Chief Chris Hunt

By Gabrielle Isaac

Gabrielle can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.

Gabrielle can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.