Financial questions may doom a small Scotland County town

A small Scotland County town may become a spot on the map with no elected government or authority to collect taxes.

A state commission is recommending East Laurinburg be stripped of its charter after years of shaky finances.

The Local Government Commission, which operates within the state Treasurer’s Office, voted unanimously Tuesday on a resolution to recommend that the town of 300 lose its status as a municipality. Legislative action is required to revoke a charter, and state Treasurer Dale Folwell said he’d spoken to legislators who represent East Laurinburg.

The town has been on the Unit Assistance List for years, said Sharon Edmundson, director of the State and Local Finance Division in the Treasurer’s Office. The Unit Assistance List is a watch list the office keeps of towns, cities, and counties that don’t file audits on time or have other financial problems.

“They have not shown they are viable going forward,” she said. “We’ve struggled with them for years.” During one stretch of time,  state staff couldn’t figure out who the town’s finance officer was. “They wouldn’t return phone calls or anything.”

The commission also voted unanimously to take control over the finances of Pikeville, a Wayne County town of about 700 people.

The town spent more in 2019 from its general fund and utility funds than it had budgeted, according to information given the Local Government Commission. The town is facing debt payments in the coming months and “its financial position is impossible to determine,” said the resolution the commission approved.

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