The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 24, 2012

Princeville meeting finishes quickly

The Daily Southerner
Calvin Adkins

TARBORO — PRINCEVILLE — The Princeville Board of Commissioners may have had its shortest regularly scheduled meeting in the history of the town Monday night.

After a little over 10 minutes, Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates brought down her gavel and declared the meeting over. But the 10-minute segment didn't go without controversy despited only one item on the agenda. Everette-Oates asked the board to change the dates upcoming meetings because of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Everette-Oates wanted to change the dates from Nov. 27 to Nov. 26 and move the Dec. 24 meeting back to Dec. 17.

The board unanimously agreed with changing the Dec. 24 meeting to Dec. 17.

Controversy arose, however, during the discussion of the November change. Everette-Oates said people will be returning from their holiday vacations on Monday, Nov. 26 and suggested the board reschedule the meeting to the following day. The mayor made the motion to move the meeting, but it died on the floor. The mayor then made another motion, this time to keep it on Nov. 26. Commissioner Ann Howell moved the motion and commissioner Calvin Sherrod second it.  

Another motion died on the floor when Sherrod asked for the agenda to be amended to go into a closed session. Sherrod most  likely wanted to address the issue of interim town manager Maggie Boyd's employment. During the September meeting, the board voted to keep Boyd on for 30 days, but Sherrod has been adamant about replacing Boyd since the August meeting, when he first brought up searching for another manager.

The town is running an ad in The Daily Southerner for a town manager/town clerk to work 15 hours per month. The ad also specified the manager must be appointed by the board. Boyd said the town had not received any applications as of Monday.  

Boyd was named intern town manager by a 3-2 vote last February after the town chose not to renew Victor Marrow's contract. Marrow was Princeville's manager for two years.

Boyd was the town's museum curator before she took the manager's job. Howell and commissioner Gwen Knight both voted against hiring Boyd, arguing she was not qualified.

Sherrod, Everette-Oates, and Purvis-Andrews disagreed and since Boyd was selected, there has been obvious dissention between the two groups.

The most notable incident was a confrontation that ended with a district court judge issuing a restraining order against Knight, ordering her to stay outside 100 feet of Boyd. Because of the ruling, Knight missed a couple of meetings before it was clear that she could attend. Since then, she has missed a few others, including Monday's.

During Monday's meeting the board did not give a financial report although Heather Strickland, LGC director of communications, said the state agency continues to improve the financial condition and operations of the town. She reported utility collections up again for the September-October billing cycle, and improvement in property tax collections. Collections for the July-August cycle and the August-September cycle were approximately $67,000 and $68,000 respectively, while collections for the September-October cycle have exceeded $72,000. Utility collections have exceeded billings in each of the months since the LGC assumed control of the town's financial matters, Strickland said.

Strickland also reported 90 accounts on the disconnection list compiled on October 11 and said many of those customers have made payments on their accounts and had service reconnected.

The LGC took over the beleaguered town's finances in July after discovering the town's financing and bookkeeping system to be in disarray.

One of the findings included Everette-Oates' charging of more than $15,000 on the town's credit card. In a Sept. 19 letter, LGC gave the town 30 days to produce proper documentation to show the purchases were on town business as well as being authorized in the town's budget.

Strickland said an attorney representing Everette-Oates asked for an extension to gather the data requested for the credit card expenditures. She said the LGC is considering the request.

Former town clerk Diana Draughn was also given an order to respond within 30 days to $2,000 in credit card charges. Strickland did not say whether or not Draughn had responded.