The Local Government Commission (LGC) has voted to transfer the assets of the town of East Laurinburg to Scotland County. The action is linked to the pending dissolution of the town scheduled for June 30.
The unanimous vote by LGC members on Tuesday, June 7, follows years of attempts by the state agency to help the financially ailing town, which also suffered from major lapses in governance, internal controls and failure to submit an annual audit as required for five consecutive years.
“It is never our desire to be forced into a situation where we must take such drastic action,” said State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA.
“But East Laurinburg has been struggling for years to effectively conduct its government operations. It was the subject of a state audit that revealed misappropriation of taxpayer money. In the last municipal election write-in candidates were elected to four open seats because there was not enough interest among residents to lead the town out of its downward spiral. We have run out of tools in our toolbox to keep the town afloat,” Treasurer Folwell said.
The LGC voted unanimously in December to revoke the town’s charter. It was the first time the agency, chaired by Treasurer Folwell, exercised authority granted under Senate Bill 314, and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper last August, to dissolve local government charters. Prior to that action, the LGC had impounded the town’s books and assumed full control of its finances due to major bookkeeping, banking and auditing deficiencies.
“The taxpayers of East Laurinburg were not being properly served by their elected officials, and it was unfair to them to continue paying taxes after years of substandard service,” Treasurer Folwell said. “Just because it is no longer incorporated should not change the fundamental character of the town. The community can preserve its name, maintain its sense of community, and sustain its heritage, pride and civic service.”
When the town is abolished, its property, cash assets, accounts receivables, taxes, assessments and any other debts, charges or fees will be conveyed or paid to Scotland County based on Tuesday’s resolution. The county will consider a companion resolution accepting the transfer at an upcoming meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.