FILE - cash drawer

Accounting irregularities were discovered in an audit of the town of Robersonville, N.C. by auditors from North Carolina state Auditor Beth Wood. 

(The Center Square) — An investigation by North Carolina state Auditor Beth Wood found several accounting irregularities for Robersonville, a town of approximately 1,500 residents in northeastern North Carolina.

The North Carolina Local Government Commission assumed control of the financial affairs of Robersonville on Oct. 6, 2020, because the town failed to submit an annual audit for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years. The auditor’s investigation document reported the town’s annual budget was $5.3 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022.

Robersonville also failed to establish and maintain an accounting system to show details of all assets, liabilities, equities, revenues and expenditures, according to the 38-page report. The town also failed to comply with North Carolina law requiring a finance officer to use generally accepted principles of government accounting.

The investigation revealed:

  • Officials failed to safeguard cash.
  • The former town manager authorized loans and tuition reimbursement payments totaling $12,435 without proper authority.
  • The former town manager overpaid the retired town manager $2,198 for the reimbursement of his health insurance premiums.
  • The town spent $3,545 on questionable credit card purchases.
  • Town officials failed to safeguard assets.
  • The town’s required financial statement audits were not completed for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2018, through June 30, 2021.

Robersonville didn’t have a procedure in place to prevent or promptly detect and correct the loss or theft of cash received for utilities payments. It didn’t have established cash-handling procedures and documentation of cash payments and failed to perform bank reconciliations.

The report found the town’s utility clerk put cash in a drawer at the end of each day and a copy of the town’s receipts and a collection report into a vault. However, the vault didn’t lock with a combination and its interior door was secured with a lock and key. Several town employees had keys to the vault.

Robersonville’s mangers failed to have and implement written policies and procedures for vehicle and card use and didn’t have anyone responsible for maintaining an inventory of vehicles and fuel cards.

In a written response to Wood’s report, Mayor Tina Brown, Mayor Pro-Tem Claudie Wilkins and three council members accepted the findings and recommendations and stated their commitment to improvement.

"Council and staff understand the need to work together to regain the public trust and provide quality service to the citizens of our town," the leaders wrote.

Wood’s report stated the investigation required 2,271 hours at an approximate cost of $245,993.

Staff Reporter

Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.