Ahoskie praised for financial recovery

Published 6:30 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

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AHOSKIE – In 2017, the Town of Ahoskie proverbially had one foot in the financial grave and the other on a banana peel.

Now, three years later, the town’s finances have recovered to the point where they warranted a response from a top official with the North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC).

“We reviewed the audited financial statements of the Town of Ahoskie for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019 and commend the town for the significant improvement in the General Fund balance for the second year in a row,” wrote Sharon G. Edmundson, Director of the LGC’s Fiscal Management Section, in a Feb. 13, 2020 letter addressed to Ahoskie Mayor Weyling White.

Edmundson noted in her letter than the Fund Balance increase was nearly $300,000.

“We also noted an improvement in the working capital (cash and receivables, less current liabilities) of the Water and Sewer Fund We encourage you to continue working to increase the cash flow reserves necessary for the financial stability of the Water and Sewer Fund,” Edmundson added in her letter.

In early 2017, Edmundson scolded town officials for what was then deemed as a “serious financial and operational problem.”

In a letter sent Jan. 11, 2017 to then Ahoskie Mayor Jimmie Rowe, Edmundson stressed that the town needed to take immediate action to improve its financial woes and operational issues.

At that time, Ahoskie’s available fund balance had declined for three consecutive years, reaching a point where there was only 12.05 percent of its fund balance available for appropriation relative to expenditures.

She noted that the town’s 2015-16 budget called for not having to use any money from its fund balance to make ends meet in its General Fund. However, $811,229 was moved from fund balance during that fiscal year. Edmundson said the reason for that was the over-estimation of revenues to the tune of $799,216.

Another financial hit that same fiscal year came with the transfer of $215,021 from the General Fund to the Water and Sewer Fund. That transfer was described as a “loan.”

Additionally there was the over-expenditure of $205,170 in the Transportation line item of the 2015-16 budget.

“You can see where we were financially three years ago as compared to today’s numbers,” Ahoskie Town Manager Kerry McDuffie told the Town Council at their regularly scheduled meeting earlier this month (prior to the COVID-19 restrictions). “We still have room for improvement; we know we can do more, but this letter from the LGC is encouraging and it lets us know we’re headed in the right direction.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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