The Daily Southerner
PRINCEVILLE — Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates, commissioner Isabelle Purvis-Andrews and interim town manager Maggie Boyd did not meet the Dec. 7 deadline set by the Local Government Commission for them to respond to questionable reimbursements they received from the town.
In a Nov. 7 letter to Everette-Oates and members of the board of commissioners, LGC listed 12 items concerning reimbursements to Everette-Oates, two to Purvis-Andrews and one to Boyd totalling $4,111. Everette-Oates’ reimbursements made up the lion’s share ($3,307) while two items tied to Purvis-Andrews combined for $600. Boyd had one for $204.
The letter stated the recipients of the reimbursements or advances must produce documentation the money was used for town business in accordance with the polices of the town and was authorized in the town budget.
The allegation was the second against the mayor since the Local Government Commission took over the town’s finances on July 1. The LGC contacted Everette-Oates, via a letter dated Sept. 19, concerning a total of $13,590 in credit card expenses. The letter asked the mayor to produce documentation those monies were expended for town business in accordance with the polices of the town and asked her to respond within 30 days.
Julia Vail, LGC deputy director of communications, said Everette-Oates responded to that request in a timely manner. However, “She did not turn in any receipts as part of her response. She simply wrote explanations on the spreadsheet of charges that were sent to her.”
Princeville’s former town clerk, Diana Draughn was also questioned about $2,216 in credit card charges. The LGC has not received a response from Draughn, Vail said.
The letter stated the expenditures must have been authorized in the town budget. If the responsible party fails to produce the required documentation or if the expenditure was not authorized by the town’s budget, that party will be responsible for the credit charge card and must pay either PNC (bank) or reimburse the town for payments it has already made to PNC.
The investigations are efforts to restore the beleaguered town’s finances. Vail said other agencies have been called in to assist with the investigations.
“Local Government Commission staff is working cooperatively with the Office of State Auditor,” Vail said. “They have begun to review certain documents and financial activities to determine if the circumstances and information warrant a state investigation. The LGC will not determine its course of action on the responses or lack thereof until OSA is further along in its review.”
In another effort to restore the town’s financial stability, the Local Government Commission cut the hours of public works in half and completely cut a 19-hour per week clerical position. LGC also appointed Saadia Lee as deputy finance officer.
The move came three days after Edgecombe County officially took over Princeville’s water system. Citizens will begin paying water and sewage bills at the Edgecombe County Administration Building on Dec. 15. As a result, the Local Government Commission staff will only be at the town hall once a week, according to a letter written by T. Vance Holloman, deputy treasurer state and local government finance division North Carolina Department of State Treasurer to Princeville board of commissioners.
Lee is the only clerical employee retained by the LGC after the state took over the town’s finances in July. Lee will man the office full-time. In addition to answering the phone and assisting citizens, Lee’s new position will allow her to receive and deposit funds.
Lee and interim town manager Maggie Boyd’s positions are the only clerical jobs that the town has. Boyd’s position allows only 15 hours per month. The town clerk, full time town manager and the finance officer positions were eliminated from the town’s budget.