Rowland leaders hear its 2019-20 finances were in good order

Tomeka Sinclair Staff writer

			
				                                John Masters, of S. Preston Douglas and Associates, presents the Fiscal Year 2019-20 audit report to the Rowland Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
                                 Tomeka Sinclair | The Robesonian

John Masters, of S. Preston Douglas and Associates, presents the Fiscal Year 2019-20 audit report to the Rowland Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

Tomeka Sinclair | The Robesonian

ROWLAND — Commissioners here now know the state of the town’s 2019-20 finances, after John Masters delivered the town’s audit report a year after it was due.

“Because of mitigating circumstances that are not in our control, the audit report was submitted late,” said Masters, an accountant with S. Preston Douglas and Associates.”There exist other outside reports that we rely on to complete the town’s audit engagement and we didn’t receive that report until March 22. That was right in the middle of our tax season … and it took us a while to get four sets of eyes on these financial statements.”

What delayed the 2019-20 audit was a missing Government Accounting Standards Board report that includes the pension standards for the town’s government.

“That was something our office missed,” Rowland Town Clerk David Townsend said.

Despite the delay, the town received a solid audit report from Masters.

The general fund balance is the highest it’s been in 20 years, Masters said. The unassigned portion of the general fund balance was in the negatives in 2006 and 2007 but has rebounded up to more than $250,000.

The Local Government Commission sent a letter noting that the town’s tax collection rate is below the state’s average, which is 99%. In 2018 town property tax collection was at 93%, in 2019 it was 92% and 91% in 2020. The county’s tax office is responsible for collecting Rowland’s taxes.

However, the numbers are in line with the county average, Masters said.

“I think you guys are doing a pretty good job as far as the rate in our municipal clients here in Robeson County,” Masters said.

The 2020-21 audit report is due June 30.

In other business, the commissioners voted to ban the operation of computer gaming establishments on Main Street from the intersection with Bond Street westward to Canal Street, a three-block radius in downtown Rowland. The current ordinance requires these establishments be located solely in C-1 or C-2 Commercial districts, which include Main Street.

However, the commissioners decided on the change to negate an onslaught of gaming establishments “popping up” on Main Street, Townsend said.

The commissioners also approved a new golf cart ordinance to give it’s town officers a better understanding of how to better enforce the town’s golf cart laws.

During the May meeting, commissioners debated the origins of the the town’s previous golf cart ordinance after hearing complaints from residents, and then agreed to rewrite it.

The mystery arose while commissioners were reviewing the ordinance adopted in 2009. Town administration decided in April to revisit the ordinance because of an increase in golf cart usage throughout town, even though only a few have been registered, as required.

The newly adopted ordinance mandates drivers be 16 years old and older, prohibits carts from operating on Main Street and requires all golf carts be registered with the town. Town residents can pick up a copy of the new ordinance beginning Wednesday, Townsend said.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

— Scheduled a public hearing for the July 8 meeting to consider voluntarily annexing two parcels of land on South Bond Street. The applicant is James Pinkney.

— Set a public hearing date on the proposed Fiscal Year 2021-21 budget for June 23 at 6:30 p.m.

— Heard the conditions of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Search Grant. The town applied for a $20,000 grant to conduct an engineering and environmental study on the town’s water and sewer systems.

— Tabled awarding contracts for solid waste, and various insurance plans.

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.