(The Center Square) – The North Carolina Local Government Commission has voted to install new finance officers for the city of Spring Lake after a state audit which revealed possible embezzlement and other questionable expenditure and management issues.
The commission, which is chaired by state treasurer Dale Folwell and made up of the state and local government finance division (SLGFD) of the treasurer, voted to retain David Erwin as the chief finance officer of the state. city and to appoint Tiffany Anderson and Susan McCullen as deputy finance officers. All three are employees of the SLGFD.
The move came a week after the release of a state audit that found more than $500,000 in unwarranted and questionable spending, including at least $430,112 in municipal funds misappropriated for personal use, $36,400 in missing money and $102,877 in questionable municipal credit card purchases.
The audit also revealed the inability of local authorities to properly inventory municipal vehicles to prevent theft and misuse, as well as the inability of the Board of Aldermen to keep minutes of meetings, among other issues.
The Local Government Commission (LGC) seized Spring Lake’s books and records and took control of the city’s finances in October, fearing local officials would pay nearly $250,000 in debt service, according to a statement from the LGC.
“We are pleased that the Local Government Commission was able to help Spring Lake resolve this payment processing situation,” Folwell said. “Employees, taxpayers and residents depend on their elected officials to know what is right, do it right and maintain it, and whenever we can assist a local government in this capacity, we are ready and willing. Our only objective is to save Spring Lake and prevent it from drowning.
Samantha Wullenwaber, who served as the city’s deputy chief financial officer at the request of the LGC, was fired last Friday, and her abrupt departure left the city with limited options for writing checks, the auditor said. State Beth Wood at LGC.
Spring Lake attorney Jonathan Charleston also submitted his notice of resignation Wednesday, according to the LGC.
Wullenwaber had prepared a detailed response to the state audit that included an explanation of how the identified issues arose and specific actions to resolve the issues, and it identified those responsible for implementing the changes. recommended, together with a timetable for completion of the work.
The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen decided instead to submit a response to Charleston’s audit that Wood called “vague and misleading” and did not contain essential answers to the questions raised in the report.
“While we have worked with the city through several challenges, we believe the time has come to move on to a new attorney,” Charleston wrote in his resignation letter to Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony.
Charleston noted that his law firm is contractually required to give 30 days’ notice to terminate his contract, but “we may agree to an earlier departure with the express consent of the city.”
Spring Lake is one of eight local governments under the financial oversight of the LGC. Others include Kingstown in Cleveland County, Spencer Mountain in Gaston County, Robersonville in Martin County, Cliffside Sanitary District in Rutherford County, East Laurinburg in Scotland County, and Eureka and Pikeville in Wayne County. .