There’s more discussion over at the News & Observer about some of the troubles facing the N.C. Rural Center , the public-private economic development group that’s been a mainstay in North Carolina politics and rural parts of the state.
An audit released today by the N.C. State Auditor found that longtime N.C. Rural Center Director Billy Ray Hall had a plush retirement severance of nearly a quarter of a million dollars waiting for him when he leaves the non-profit funded by the N.C. General Assembly. That’s on top of a $221,000 a year salary and a separate retirement account.
The audit determined that Hall’s $221,000 salary was “not reasonable,” according to the News & Observer.
From the N&O’s Andy Curliss :
Auditors also found that leaders of the nonprofit Rural Center have put nearly a quarter million dollars into a special account to pay president Billy Ray Hall, 65, a severance when he leaves the rural agency, which emphasizes its efforts to help poor and struggling pockets of the state.
The severance account for Hall was started in 2003 and board members have put $10,000 to $40,000 a year in it since, according to the audit. The severance account held $241,856 on June 30, 2012.
The timing of the audit’s release is far from ideal for the N.C. Rural Center, with differences being hashed out behind closed legislative doors about how much to fund the N.C. Rural Center, or whether to defund it completely. Hall had a strong presence in the state legislature when Democrats were in control, and has faced a much cooler reception now that Republicans are in power.
It’s also worth reading Curliss’ previous stories about the Rural Center (here  and here ) which questioned the effectiveness of the agency and detailed how those with political connections benefited from grants approved by the center.
Here’s a somewhat shameless plug , on a tangentially related topic, to a story I wrote today about some economic struggles rural Hoke County. A large turkey plant owned by the House of Raeford is scheduled to close its doors by the end of the month, a move that will put leave 950 people without jobs and little replacement work on the horizon.
Click here  to read that story.