State audit slams Robersonville for money mismanagement

ROBERSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A state audit shows an Eastern Carolina town lacked necessary safeguards for cash kept at town hall, gave improper loans to employees, and had questionable credit card purchases.

State Auditor Beth Wood released the investigative audit for Robersonville this morning.

In the 29-page report, the audit found that the town had no way to safeguard customers’ cash payments for utilities. The audit said the town also failed to reconcile its bank statements for more than three years.

The audit said without safeguards in place, the town had no assurance that cash was not missing or stolen and that money was not secured overnight.

Wood’s audit also found that a former town manager authorized loans and tuition reimbursement payments without approval from the town council and more than $3,500 in questionable expenses were made using the town’s credit card.

Robersonville also had no inventory of its vehicles, and fuel cards for those vehicles were not safeguarded, the audit discovered. It said that the town actually had no idea how many vehicles it owned, that number being anywhere between 39 and 42 vehicles.

The town also did not complete the required financial audits for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

In May 2020, Robersonville’s independent auditor said she had “no choice” but to quit. Then, in October 2020, the North Carolina Local Government Commission took over control of the town’s finances.

“Frankly, the local government commission still has control of the town they have control of the bank the towns bank accounts the town’s books and the town’s checkbook,” Wood explained.

In response, Robersonville said it accepts the audit’s findings and recommendations. “Council and staff understand the need to work together again to regain the public trust and provide quality service to the citizens of our town,” the mayor and council said in a letter to Wood.

Chris Roberson is now the Interim Town Manager. “It is our mandate now to regain that public trust by making those recommendations that were made by the local government commission as well as the State Auditor Beth Wood,” he said.

The letter also included specific actions the town is taking to rectify the key findings, including professional development for the finance director and new procedures to safeguard cash deposits. It adds that, while cash drawers are still held in the vault, access to the key for that room is “limited”.

Robersonville could lose their charter as a town if they don’t fix this issue. They were also audited back in 2017, and Wood said a lot of the issues pointed out in the 2017 report were not addressed.

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