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November 9, 2012

Undocumented reimbursements concern LGC

TARBORO — PRINCEVILLE — After sifting through numerous documents, the Local Government Commission has discovered at least 15 instances of questionable travel reimbursement by three Town of Princeville officials.

In a Nov. 7 letter to mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates and the members of the town's board of commissioners, LGC listed 12 items concerning reimbursement to Everette-Oates, two items to commissioner Isabelle Purvis-Andrews and one item to interim town manager Maggie Boyd. The 15 items totaled $4,111 with $3,307 tied to Everette-Oates, $600 to Purvis-Andrews and $204 to Boyd.

In the letter, Sharon G. Edmundson, LGC director, fiscal management, wrote, "Documentation of most of the expenditures is incomplete and in some case missing completely."

Edmundson, who is also acting as the finance officer for the town following LGC's taking over of the books last summer, said that in the majority of the incidents, the expenditures were not adequately documented.

The letter stated the recipients of the reimbursement or advances must produce documentation that the money was used for town business in accordance with the polices of the town. 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 reimbursing the town for the expenditure."

One of Edmundson's concerns was a $318.51 reimbursement to Purvis-Andrews on July 19, that she received for returning from vacation to attend a town meeting.

"Aside from the fact that there was no documentation to support the mileage claim, it is nor appropriate for the town to reimburse a board member for travel to a board meeting from a personal destination," Edmundson's letter read.

Another concern was for reimbursements for conferences and related travel which did not include documentation to show the town officials actually attended the conferences, nor was their documentation to show the purpose of the event.

In a line item dated Aug. 3, 2011, Everette-Oates was reimbursed $305 for an expenditure stated as "USDA Washington DC." The description given was mileage and taxi fare.

But according to Edmundson, the document failed to list the reason for the trip, how many people attended and it did not provide the agenda for the meeting, which is required by law. The taxi fare was also undocumented.

LGC questioned Everette-Oates in September concerning similar inadequate documents for credit card charges totaling $13,207. One of the charges included a trip to Washington. According to LGC, the mayor charged $682 from Aug. 4-6. The largest expense was $534. According to LGC, there was inadequate documentation provided for the charges. LGC initially gave Everette-Oates 30 days to provide the proper documents, but she has reportedly asked for an extension.

LGC has been reviewing Princeville's financial records since July 1, when the state agency took over the beleaguered town's books due its financial instability.

 

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