FILE - North Carolina state flag

The North Carolina state flag flies.

(The Center Square) – The North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC) will take over the finances of Spring Lake, a Cumberland County town of 12,000 residents near Fort Bragg.

The commission, which monitors the finances and approves borrowing for local government units, voted this week to take ahold of the town’s finances over concerns Spring Lake may default on its November debt service payments of $221,385.

“This is not an agenda item we ever desire, but we have to continue on behalf of the taxpayers to find out what’s right, get it right, and keep it right,” North Carolina State Treasurer and LGC chair Dale Folwell said Tuesday ahead of the vote.

Spring Lake is the seventh local government unit under the financial control of the LGC, officials said.

Spring Lake has been in hot water with the LGC over the past year. The town entered into a Fiscal Accountability Agreement with the LGC earlier this year. Officials vowed to take steps to get the town’s financial operations in order after overspending and allowing the town to fall into a deficit.

Spring Lake also failed in October 2020 to seek the required LGC approval for a $1 million loan from the South River Electric Membership Corporation to build a fire station.

The town got its final warning in July, when the LGC uncovered Spring Lake officials did not comply with state statutes regarding local governments’ accounting systems and added roadblocks to an ongoing probe by the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor.

Spring Lake Mayor Larry Dobbins said the LGC would manage the town’s financial affairs until it sees the town complies with the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, which outlines all of the financial operation guidelines for local governments.

“The town recognizes the importance to sound fiscal policy and the need to get the town’s financial house in order,” Dobbins said in a statement. “Nothing we can do will un-ring the bell in terms of where the town is today. What the [Spring Lake Board of Aldermen] can do is commit to providing appropriate fiscal oversight and accountability for the town and its citizens.”

The other local units under the LGC’s financial control are Wayne County’s Eureka and Pikeville, Cleveland County’s Kingstown, Martin County’s Robersonville, Gaston County’s Spencer Mountain and Rutherford County’s Cliffside Sanitary District.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for five years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.