News: Quick Takes

State auditor investigating Goldsboro over possible mismanagement of funding

Goldsboro City Hall, Goldsboro, N.C.(image via Facebook)
Goldsboro City Hall, Goldsboro, N.C.(image via Facebook)

State Auditor Beth Wood is investigating the city of Goldsboro over possible mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.

The investigation comes after the city’s 2019 audit showed multiple bookkeeping adjustments to capital assets and notes receivable, with no audits conducted in 2020 or 2021. State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who requested the investigation, in a press release said it’s common to see some adjustments because of an audit, but significant adjustments could signal major weaknesses in day-to-day fiscal management.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell. (CJ file photo)

“The city of Goldsboro has been perpetually late on its audits,” Folwell told Carolina Journal.  “I don’t speak for the auditor, but she and I would rather not be talking about Goldsboro right now. We would rather be the Maytag repair person, where nothing was broken in North Carolina. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

Folwell said it was important to get the investigation in the “queue” as Wood is already involved in two to three dozen similar audits of local governments.

Goldsboro is on the Local Government Commission Unit Assistance List, where local government units experiencing an array of deficiencies are placed for heightened monitoring. Folwell chairs the LGC, which is staffed by the Department of the State Treasurer. Wood also sits on the commission. Weekly meetings are held to identify hotspots or areas of concern.

“… [W]e keep getting promises from one of the major cities in North Carolina that the audits are coming, the audits are coming … then we come to find out the 2021 audit isn’t going to start until May or June. That’s last year’s audit.  You don’t just snap your fingers and produce an audit.”

Folwell said the state is interested in partnering with elected officials in Goldsboro, the N.C. League of Municipalities, and the N.C. School of Government to “figure out what’s right, to get it right, and keep it right.”

“The disproportionate impact on lower and fixed income people of the city of Goldsboro, when they struggle to pay property taxes for essential services, is huge,” he said.

Folwell said officials are glad to have Senate Bill 473 in their “toolkit.” The bill, which became law on Jan. 1, bans public officials from gaining financially from their positions.

He also cited the resurgence of Ahoskie, Hertford County, which he said was in worse shape than Goldsboro seven years ago. A new city council helped Ahoskie get its financial books in order, pay off its debts, and get it off the unit assistance list.

“We just had 37 units come off the list because they got their act together,” Folwell said. “There’s no geographical or financial reason that Goldsboro can’t get to the same outcome. It’s only going to happen if people are willing to challenge assumptions.”

“The city has not received communication from Auditor Wood’s office,” Tim Salmon, Goldsboro city manager, said in an emailed statement. “If and when we do, the city is fully committed to addressing all concerns.”

Goldsboro is the state’s 30th largest city, the county seat of Wayne County, and home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.