Robesonian

St. Pauls gets mostly positive audit

ST. PAULS — The St. Pauls Board of Commissioners heard Thursday a mostly positive audit report, with the only negative news being the result of a change in state accounting procedures.

John Masters, of the accounting firm S. Preston Douglas & Associates, gave a report on the audit of the budget year ending June 30, 2017. He told the commissioners the town’s revenues have increased over the past few years. He attributed that continued revenue rise to steadily increasing economic development.

Masters also told them of a “very modest” problem with the structured debt. The increase in that expenditure was caused by the shifting of certain expenditures accounted for in the past by the state government to the municipal level. One such fiscal responsibility is payments into government employees’ retirement accounts.

Audit figures showed the town’s total revenue for 2016-17 was $2,160,524. Its General fund expenses were $1,796,714. The town is maintaining a 30 percent unallocated fund balance.

Masters also reported good news related to sewer revenue.

“It really took a bounce,” Masters said. “Sewer revenue rose from $325,000 to $400,000.”

Mayor Gerard Weindel was pleased.

“For municipalities in Robeson County the same size as St. Pauls, you’re right there,” Masters said.

In another money matter, the commissioners approved buying a surplus 1997 model bucket truck from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for $4,150. The truck will be used to hang Christmas decorations around the town.

“The engine is worth that,” Commissioner Evans Jackson said.

Commissioner Jerry Quick said various other vehicles, such as a backhoe, have been used for the decorating job in the past. The bucket truck will make the job safer.

“Our intent is we don’t want people getting hurt on the job,” Quick said.

The bucket truck also can be used for other jobs around town, he said.

One job that needs to be done is cleaning up and repairing the town’s War Memorial, located on the 100 block of West Broad Street.

That was the message Johnny Bascon, 57, brought to the commissioners.

“It’s an embarrassment,” the Marine Corps veteran said. “And I don’t like being embarrassed.”

A canopy needs to be erected for use during ceremonies, he said. The memorial needs to be more accessible to the handicapped. The grounds need to be repaired and beautified.

“I’m a patriotic man,” Bascon said. “If I see something wrong I want to make a correction.”

Bascon asked the commissioners for help.

Mayor Weindel and Commissioner Jackson assured him the town was trying to address the problem.

Jackson told Bascon that town leaders had met recently with members of the local chapters of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion to ask them what they wanted done at the memorial and what they were willing to do to help.

“They didn’t want to do anything,” Jackson said. “They want the city to fix everything.”

Another meeting with the veterans is scheduled for March 22, Jackson said. He urged Bascon to attend the meeting.

“You’re preaching to the choir,” Jackson said. “You need to get to that meeting and preach to them.”

In other business, the commissioners:

— Tabled a conditional-use permit request for a church at 216 E. Broad St. No name for the church or reason for the permit request were given.

— Approved a conditional-use permit for a church at 114 E. Blue St. No name for the church or reason for the permit request were given.

— Approved a conditional-use permit for an auto service center on East Broad Street. No name for the business or reason for the permit request were given.

— Approved refunding $922 in sewer fees to Albert Baxley. The money reflects years of fees collected for service not used.

“We can’t give him more,” Jackson said. “The law says we can’t.”

— Authorized the town’s staff to research and write a proposed ordinance that would prohibit “storefront churches” in the downtown area. Existing churches would be grandfathered into the proposed ordinance.

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T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at tchunter@robesonian.com.