• 41°

Interim town manager, finance officer look to stabilize Landis town government

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — With a State Bureau of Investigation probe of town finances underway, Deputy Police Chief Roger Hosey will serve as the town’s interim finance officer, Mayor Mike Mahaley said Friday.

Earlier this month, Town Manager Reed Linn and Finance Officer Ginger Gibson resigned. They are the subjects in an SBI inquiry into allegations of embezzlement. Police Chief Kenny Isenhour was appointed interim town manager on Tuesday.

Isenhour said his goal is transparency and efficiency during the investigation, adding there is a reason the police chief and assistant police chief are now leading the town’s management.

As the town “fills in holes,” one area of concern may be an insufficient unassigned fund balance — which is similar to a savings account the town could use for any purpose. It’s something about which the Local Government Commission — a financial regulatory agency — has issued warnings to Landis before. Now the town’s fund balance appears to have dipped below 1 percent of total general fund expenditures — well below the state-recommended minimum of 8 percent — according to a draft 2017-2018 audit posted under the town’s transparency section on its website.

The draft 2017-18 audit reports the town’s unassigned fund balance for the general fund to be $26,168, or 0.8 percent of the roughly $3.35 million in general fund expenses reported in the 2017-2018 audit.

The Local Government Commission looks at municipalities to determine if the amount in a fund balance is adequate and will send a letter if the balance is under 8 percent.

“An available fund balance is essential to ensure adequate resources are available to meet cash-flow needs and to address unforeseen circumstances,” said Greg Gaskins, secretary of the commission. 

Landis’ 0.8 percent unassigned fund balance is compared to approximately $1.7 million, or 41 percent, in unassigned fund balance reported in China Grove’s audit for 2017-2018; 1.79 million, or 66 percent, in Spencer; 6.87 million, or 18 percent, for the city of Salisbury, which has a minimum fund balance police stating the desired minimum available fund balance in its general fund should be 10 percent. 

Meanwhile, for the 2016-17 fiscal year, the town had an unassigned fund balance of $288,996, or 10 percent.

The Local Government Commission says it’s reviewing Landis’ latest audit and has previously questioned the town for low fund balance amounts.

In a 2011 letter, for example, Sharon G. Edmundson, director of the State Treasurer’s Fiscal Management Section, wrote a letter to then-Mayor Dennis Brown that said, “In the General Fund, the percentage of fund balance available for appropriation relative to expenditures continues to be inadequate to support current operations.”

Asked about the 0.8 percent unassigned fund balance in the 2017-2018 audit, Mahaley, despite the fact that the Landis Board of Aldermen must approve a budget every year, said it’s not something for which he’s responsible.

“I’m not involved in that,” he said. “It’s not my pay grade.”

Isenhour said he is working with the SBI and the auditor to provide information for the embezzlement allegations while working with the Local Government Commission to get the town back on track.

Isenhour said he and Hosey will “stay there long enough to help the town back on its feet” as interim town manager and finance officer.

Public Works Director Ron Miller also has stepped up to fill the role of fire chief. Linn simultaneously served as fire chief and town manager, but resigned from both last week. 

Contact reporter Liz Moomey at 704-797-4222.

Comments

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police

Local

Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Business

After overcoming obstacles, local barber Daniel King earns registered status

Lifestyle

39th annual K12 student exhibitions go virtual

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber of Commerce to host ‘Salute to Agri-Business’ at March Power in Partnership

Local

Local legislators back bills ranging from new restrictions on sex offenders to Holocaust education