Friday, June 10, 2022 - 00:00

Local Government Commission Closer to Dissolving Town of East Laurinburg Commission Votes to Transfer Assets, Obligations to Scotland County

Commission Votes to Transfer Assets, Obligations to Scotland County
Raleigh, NC
Jun 10, 2022

(Raleigh, N.C.) – The Local Government Commission (LGC) has voted to transfer the assets of the town of East Laurinburg to Scotland County. The action is linked to the pending dissolution of the town scheduled for June 30.

The unanimous vote by LGC members on Tuesday, June 7, follows years of attempts by the state agency to help the financially ailing town, which also suffered from major lapses in governance, internal controls and failure to submit an annual audit as required for five consecutive years.

“It is never our desire to be forced into a situation where we must take such drastic action,” said State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA.

“But East Laurinburg has been struggling for years to effectively conduct its government operations. It was the subject of a state audit that revealed misappropriation of taxpayer money. In the last municipal election write-in candidates were elected to four open seats because there was not enough interest among residents to lead the town out of its downward spiral. We have run out of tools in our toolbox to keep the town afloat,” Treasurer Folwell said.

The LGC voted unanimously in December to revoke the town’s charter. It was the first time the agency, chaired by Treasurer Folwell, exercised authority granted under Senate Bill 314, and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper last August, to dissolve local government charters. Prior to that action, the LGC had impounded the town’s books and assumed full control of its finances due to major bookkeeping, banking and auditing deficiencies.

“The taxpayers of East Laurinburg were not being properly served by their elected officials, and it was unfair to them to continue paying taxes after years of substandard service,” Treasurer Folwell said. “Just because it is no longer incorporated should not change the fundamental character of the town. The community can preserve its name, maintain its sense of community, and sustain its heritage, pride and civic service.”

When the town is abolished, its property, cash assets, accounts receivables, taxes, assessments and any other debts, charges or fees will be conveyed or paid to Scotland County based on Tuesday’s resolution. The county will consider a companion resolution accepting the transfer at an upcoming meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

The LGC, staffed by the Department of State Treasurer, has a statutory duty to monitor the financial well-being of more than 1,100 local government units. The commission also examines whether the amount of money units borrow is adequate and reasonable for proposed projects, and confirms the governmental units can reasonably afford to repay the debt.

In other action on the agenda, the city of Greensboro (Guilford County) received LGC approval of a $135 million general obligation bond package that also still requires approval of voters in a July 26 referendum as part of the city’s general election. 

Voters will be able to approve all, some, or none of the five components of the bond package, which includes $70 million for parks and recreation, $30 million for housing, $15 million for transportation, $14 million for firefighting facilities and $6 million for law enforcement facilities. A property tax increase of up to 1.25 cents per $100 of valuation is anticipated to pay for the bonds. The proposal has raised local debate due to the amount of money for parks and recreation compared to transportation and public safety.

Greensboro also got approval to refund $87 million in bonds for new water and sewer projects as well as to refund $8.5 million at a lower interest rate to save $421,923.

Buncombe County’s request was approved for $59 million in limited obligation bonds for construction and repairs of county buildings and schools. In addition, refunding for $81 million in bonds at lower interest rates was approved. The transaction is expected to save $548,000 annually through 2034, and $63,000 for the remaining three years.

The city of Durham (Durham County) was approved for $132 million in interim installment financing for capital projects including improvements to streets, parks and recreation, fire station, public safety, sidewalks, IT infrastructure and public works.

Approval for $42 million in limited obligation bonds was approved for Asheville (Buncombe County). The money will pay for various projects throughout the city, including affordable housing, public safety, transportation, infrastructure, parks and recreation, repair and construction of city facilities, and vehicle purchases.

The LGC approved $37.5 million in revenue bonds requested by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for acquisition, construction and equipping a 198-unit family apartment complex known as South Emerson Hills in Kannapolis (Cabarrus and Rowan counties).

The LGC also approved $26 million in financing sought by Inlivian, also known as the Charlotte Housing Authority (Mecklenburg County). The money will be loaned to Forest Park Family Apartments to acquire, build and equip a 200-unit, multifamily, rental housing complex. Inlivian also received approval for $16 million in financing to loan to Johnston Oehler Seniors Apartments to acquire, build and equip a 140-unit, multifamily, rental housing development.

New Hanover County got a green light to issue $18.5 million in limited obligation bonds to acquire and build Hanover Pines Nature Park; make water and sewer line and road improvements to Blue Clay Business Park; renovate parks and recreation facilities; and purchase vehicles, among other projects.

Johnston County plans to build a 63,000-square-foot public safety facility to house the Sheriff’s Office and emergency management operations. The LGC approved its request for $17.5 million in limited obligation bonds.

Cabarrus County plans to enter a public-private partnership to build a library and senior center in the western portion of the county. The LGC approved its request for $15 million in financing for the project. The county will lease the building with the intention of purchasing it at a later date.

Fayetteville (Cumberland County) was approved for $10.5 million in financing to build an 18,032-square-foot fire station, and relocate Fire Station #4 there.

The LGC approved a request from Jackson County for a $20 million bond to build an indoor swimming pool and aquatics center.

LGC members approved a number of other financing requests. They are from: