Bad 2015 audit will cost tribe $443K

By T.C. Hunter - Managing editor
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PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribe will lose $443,290.06 in federal funding to settle irregularities in expenditures found in a 2015 audit.

Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. told members of the council’s Finance Committee on Thursday that the tribal administration had entered into a voluntary compliance agreement with the federal Department Housing and Urban Development. The full Tribal Council will take up the agreement during its regular business meeting on June 21.

The owed money will be taken out of HUD funding to the tribe in fiscal year 2019, Godwin said. The tribe will get $16 million from HUD this year, but will see a reduction in 2019.

The problems occurred under the administration of former Chairman Paul Brooks.

The tribe has a history of improper and questionable expenditures dating back to 2011, he said.

“We’re finally at closure,” Godwin said.

The federal agency’s audit identified eight findings requiring repayment of funds, said Danielle McLean, Legal & Compliance officer. Some were negotiated down, but the tribe was left with eight findings requiring repayment.

The largest item was for more than $264,000 related to the construction of seven single-family homes for which construction bids were solicited, McLean said. Three companies made bids on the houses and all three companies were awarded contracts to build at least one house.

“That was even though one contractor wasn’t the lowest bidder on any of the houses,” McLean said.

Because of that bidding process, the tribe instituted a new policy and has scheduled training for all housing staff, she said. The expense for that travel and training will be included in the 2018-19 tribal budget.

Another instance requiring repayment to HUD was non-American Indians leaving in tribal housing in Fayetteville in 2015, McLean said. The tribe stopped funding that development in 2015, but the paperwork putting an end to tribal involvement wasn’t completed and filed until 2017.

The compliance agreement means HUD will not pursue enforcement procedures for delinquent payments, she said.

It also means that the tribe can receive federal funding for Dream Catcher Properties, Chairman Godwin said. The Title 6 funding for the the 50 rental properties to be built on three sites around Robeson County had been placed on hold until the audit issue could be settled.

When that funding will be received is not yet known, McLean said.

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By T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]