State: Jonesville finances on track

By Beanie Taylor -
Mayor Gene Pardue presents Town Manager Scott Buffkin with a plaque recognizing his service to the community of Jonesville. - Beanie Taylor | The Tribune

JONESVILLE — The Jonesville Town Council heard encouragement from residents as well as the state at Monday night’s meeting.

After Jimmy Layell contributed his gratitude for the town maintenance staff, Sharon Edmundson of the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer continued the reinforcement.

“I encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing,” directed Edmundson, after explaining the improvements that have taken place in the budget since concerns from her team were first pointed out in September.

As the director of fiscal management at N.C. Department of State Treasurer, State and Local Government Finance Division, Edmundson described her duty as, “oversee[ing] finances of local governments across the state and to review their audits and provide guidance to affect [their] financial health.”

“We try to make this as collaborative as possible,” said Edmundson, who introduced the two people who carried out the investigation that lead to the recommendations, Ann Cutler and David Erwin. Cutler and Erwin are accounting and financial management advisors for the division of the State Treasurer Department who came to Jonesville to look over the financial records.

Edmundson pointed out issues that had been a concern when Cutler and Erwin first arrived last summer that the town has been able to improve. The state had been called initially, “because cash flow had become an issue. That’s not unusual in the summer,” indicated Edmundson. “We made some very good progress.”

Edmundson recommended continued classes for Lynn Trivette, who serves as both town clerk and finance director. “You are dependent on the great information she gives you as the financial director to improve cash flow to your water fund,” noted Edmundson, after explaining how important it was for the town to rethink the way it treats the water fund.

“The water fund is supposed to be a stand-alone,” explained Edmundson. “The point of putting in the water system is to treat it like a business. It can be picked up from one town and given to another.”

Edmundson also recommended re-evaluating the relationship between the town of Jonesville and the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority. At present, the town does the billing for the Jonesville service area for the sewer authority, but the agreement does not include any payment to the town for that service. “You’re doing them service, but you’re not getting paid for it.”

Also, the town lent money to the sewer authority to get up and running several years ago, which the agreement between the two entity states does not have to be paid back until the authority is at 50 percent in its fund balance. Properly using the money owed by the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority is going to be important for the future financial well-being of Jonesville. “It’s one-time money. It should be saved for capital needs in the future,” cautioned Edmundson, “not subsidizing rates because it won’t be available in the future.”

Consideration for these funds may apply to the amount available in different resources for emergency needs. Edmundson explained that it’s more difficult for smaller municipalities to keep an adequate amount of emergency money available due to size, “a truck is going to cost the same no matter how big your town is,” said Edmundson as she explained her point by talking about places affected by Hurricane Matthew and the solutions some have come up with for cash flow problems and how those choices only create further issues.

Jonesville is doing a better overall job of managing the budget properly, according to Edmundson, including checking the budget before making significant financial decisions. “There’s been some really good positive steps taken.”

The Jonesville Historical Society also has its finances back on track. Presenting the town council with a profit and loss statement for the society, President Becky Wood requested release of the anticipated funds for the Jonesville Jubilee. “There are so many people who want to be involved. We need the money that we are owed or we can’t do the Jubilee.”

Town Manager Scott Buffkin reported to the council that earlier in the week he had briefly perused the financial records presented by Wood, noting, “Any group that was to receive more than $5,000 in donation must submit their financial records. There has certainly been improvement in the financial conditions of the historical society.”

The council agreed to read the profit and loss statement in order to come to a conclusion before the next meeting about the money normally provided to the historical society for the purpose of organizing the Jonesville Jubilee.

Clarence Lackamy of the Wooten Company also asked for a decision to be made timely regarding the State Drinking Water Reserve Program. After a decision of ineligibility was rendered for the state grant being pursued, the Jonesville Town Council must decide how it wishes to proceed to find funding for the program.

“I thought you had a good application and it was, but there’s just not enough money to go around,” asserted Lackamy, who pointed out that the council can either decided to resubmit for the grant or apply for a 50/50 loan, “because of general statutes there is a charge that must be paid for the loan,” which means that, although there is no interest rate, the town would still have to pay an estimated $19,000 fee.

“The first milestone you have to meet [for the grant] is June 1,” cautioned Lackamy. “I recommend you make the decision within the next 30 days.”

Another deadline on the horizon for Jonesville was the renewal of Urban Archery Season, which Jonesville passed again this year. “I have not heard of any issues,” reported Buffkin. “I don’t know of many people who have participated.”

“I participate,” said Councilmember Andy Green. “I haven’t had any luck, but I participated.”

The community of Jonesville will get more participation in a Fire Safety House. According to Heather Macy, who gave the report for the department, the Arlington Fire Department previously had to borrow a smoke house for Fire Safety Week and other community activities. “We no longer have to borrow one,” said Macy, explaining having one locally would mean being able to have it more throughout the community.

Before dismissing for a closed session, Mayor Gene Pardue presented Buffkin with a plaque recognizing his service to the community of Jonesville. Buffkin will be leaving to take a post as manager in Clemmons at the end of February.

Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.

Mayor Gene Pardue presents Town Manager Scott Buffkin with a plaque recognizing his service to the community of Jonesville. Gene Pardue presents Town Manager Scott Buffkin with a plaque recognizing his service to the community of Jonesville. Beanie Taylor | The Tribune

By Beanie Taylor