DA finds insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice by former mayor

The Town of Robbins Thursday had their second of three scheduled Budget Planning Meetings to review the 2019-20 budget.

Initial projects estimate a total budget (inclusive of the general fund and enterprise funds (Water and Sewer)) of approximately $2.3 million.

“The estimates are very conservative on the revenue side and very liberal on the expense side,” said Town Manager David Lambert.

Public safety makes up the most substantial portion of the budget, accounting for an estimated 31 percent of total expenditures.

The aftermath of hurricanes Florence and Michael continue to be huge factors in the town’s financial situation. Damage from the storms totaled over $2.5 million. The town’s commercial insurance paid less than $20,000 of that.

Robbins Town Manager David Lambert shows the water level in one of the towns pumping stations when Hurricane Florence hit in September, 2018. 

Robbins did not have flood insurance because the vast majority of the town is not in a flood plain. However, the most significant damage was to the city’s water and sewage treatment plants, which by the very nature of those type of facilities, are almost always located in flood plains.

Town Manager Lambert is going to research options for flood insurance and report back to the council.

The town applied for a $1 million stimulus grant and was granted $500,000, which must be spent on specific items. The town also received a $1.6 million zero-interest loan which must be spent on FEMA approved items.

The town has some ongoing capital needs including the need to replace a four-wheel drive truck that was totaled in a 2017 accident. The town has been operating with only one four-wheel drive truck since the accident, which can be problematic as they work in wet conditions or need to haul equipment. The needs also include a new police vehicle and several infrastructure needs.

The town has been operating without a capital plan. “Robbins capital plan has been that when it breaks, we fix it,” said Lambert which led to town mayor Lonnie English to state, “That needs to change.”

Town Manager David Lambert addressing Robbins Town Council during Thursday’s Budget Planning Meeting.

In spite of the ongoing challenges in recovering from last year’s hurricanes, the overall budget outlook is very promising. In recent years, the town has had to routinely use portions of the “fund balance” to meet operating expenses.

The North Carolina Local Government Commission recommends that local governments maintain an undesignated fund balance to provide working capital and to prevent unnecessary short term borrowing to cover unexpected expenses.

Initial projections for the upcoming year indicate the town will not to need to use the “fund balance” for operating expenses.

The Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, which was passed in 2010, require local government units to operate under a balanced budget and to adhere to other sound fiscal policies. You can find more information about that here.

Tentatively Robbins has scheduled the third and final budget planning session for May 23 with a vote expected in early June. By statute, the town must adopt a budget by the end of June.

Feature photo of Robbins Mayor Lonnie English during Thursday’s meeting.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Local News/Government Reporter Chris Prentice.

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