Representatives from the N.C. Local Government Commission recently met with Norlina officials to discuss why the town’s audit information for the 2018 fiscal year has not been provided. At the same time, Norlina representatives blame an accounting firm for not submitting the information to the state on time.

During the Norlina Town Board’s regular monthly meeting Monday night, Commissioner Lou Stultz said that the Office of State Treasurer/LGC contacted the town about a month ago to schedule a meeting to discuss the lack of 2018 audit information. About two weeks ago, LGC representatives spent two hours talking with Norlina officials, she added.

Stultz told the newspaper on Tuesday that the town has followed the same procedure at the close of each fiscal year at the end of June for a number of years. In the second week of July, the town submits its financial statements to an accounting firm for review to ensure that everything is posted correctly. Stultz said that, after reviewing the town’s finances, the accounting firm submits the information to a second accounting firm to complete the audit. The second accounting firm is to send the audit to the Office of the State Treasurer. Stultz said that Norlina submitted its information to the accounting firm for review on time.

During Monday’s meeting, Stultz reported that the LGC representatives told the town that it could not apply for additional grants until the 2018 audit is closed.

She added that the LGC representatives said that Norlina needed to designate someone to sign checks on behalf of the town in the absence of the town clerk. As a result, the town board voted unanimously to grant that authority to the town’s accounts receivables clerk.

Stultz told the board that she didn’t know how long it would take to close the 2018 and 2019 books in order to complete a budget for fiscal year 2019-20, which will begin on July 1. She anticipates that the town will follow a budget identical to that of the current fiscal year.

“… We’re going to open up for business on July the first,” Stultz said. “We have not yet begun to key in anything for the 2019 budget, so we’re going to hopefully key that in just like it is today, and then we’ll make any adjustments we have to all during the year next year.”

Mayor Dwight Pearce also blamed the absence of a 2018 audit report on accounting firms handling the process.

“I think the important part to underline is that the town provided all of the information that the town was supposed to provide to the firm that was handling our information,” he said. “It’s not the town staff that didn’t do it; it was done. The CPA firm has not done it.”