Ahoskie Council should resign

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, March 21, 2017

To the Editor:

This opinion concerns my comments at the Ahoskie Town Council meeting March 14 concerning the deficit in the 2015-16 budget, presented by the Town Manager, and passed by our elected Town Council. As I am sure you are unaware, that budget audit showed a deficit of the General Fund of minus $26,008 after a budget audit in 2014-2015 of a positive balance of plus $1,008,379

Now many factors contribute to a budget, but to go from a positive to a deficit is inexcusable. We need answers, and accountability. One retirement/resignation is not enough.

I missed the February 14th Council meeting due to surgery that same day, but I have been kept abreast of the meeting and other issues, so I used this latest meeting to address the Council concerning this matter that many citizens asked me to do as they know I believe in accountability of our elected officials.

To paraphrase my March 14 comments, the blame seems to lie and been placed upon the Town Manager, but in all honesty it actually lies at the feet (desk) of each elected member of the Town Council as well, probably more so. They have complete oversight of the budget. They are supposed to study it, analyze it, ask questions and make absolutely positive it will pass muster before and after they pass the budget that dictates spending for that coming fiscal year. The Town Manager cannot spend a dime of taxpayer money without express approval of the Town Council when they pass the budget and other permissions along the way. I stated that they had disgraced this entire town and the seat they hold with their failure to utilize proper oversight.

Now as for what truly happened with the budget, it seems as if the public at large will never truly know. It could expose what actually happened with the General Fund budget, but that could be embarrassing for the elected council member’s.

The Mayor stated the issue had been taken care of. It was then that the Town Manager submitted his letter of retirement- resignation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Town Manager took the fall for what was and is the entire Town Council’s fault for the deficit and lack of proper oversight. If they had done proper oversight then maybe this could have been avoided. If this had truly been taken care of, then the entire elected Town Council would have submitted their letter of resignation and apologized to the citizens of Ahoskie.

Is demanding their resignation and apology harsh, yes, but the damage to the town with their failure to do the job they were elected to do warrants it.

Short of resignations, elected officials can be held accountable and that starts with you, the citizens of Ahoskie, first by showing up at the Council meetings as it is the only way for you to truly be informed, then on Election Day by electing someone not based on race, gender or economic/social status, but for their ability/willingness to get things done properly and be accountable.

Donald Kirkland