08/05/09 — Duplin looking at solid waste department

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Duplin looking at solid waste department

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on August 5, 2009 1:46 PM

A lingering stink over the possible misuse of county funds for solid waste work bubbled up again Monday at the Duplin County commissioners' meeting.

Resident Jimmy Dixon asked the board to examine the possible misuse of $360,000 of enterprise fund money allegedly used to pay for solid waste work conducted eight years ago.

"This board has a legal and moral duty to pay this money back," Dixon said.

Dixon spoke with Commissioner Reginald Wells before the meeting, and Wells requested the commissioners put the issue on the next meeting agenda.

"I think we need to take the lead on that," Wells said. "If the findings are there and we're in error, we need to correct it."

Commissioner David Fussell said he didn't know enough about the issue to effectively respond to Dixon's comments.

"I'd love to know what he knows," said Fussell.

Commissioner Harold Raynor, participating in the meeting by speaker phone, also supported examining Dixon's claims.

"What I think we need to do is set aside a meeting," Raynor said. "It not only makes us look bad, it makes our solid waste people look bad who have nothing to do with it. We need to put this thing to rest and get it off the front page."

But before moving forward, Commissioner Zettie Williams said she would like to see the county attorney find the written information behind the claims.

County Manager Mike Aldridge plans to speak with Dixon and the county attorney before bringing anything to the board.

In other business, the public will have another chance to comment on Duplin County's operations Tuesday, Aug. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Lois K. Britt Agricultural Center.

The county is now two weeks into the performance audit being conducted by Evergreen Solutions, Dr. Linda Recio of Evergreen reported, and the company is already "receiving regular comments" through the county's Web site.

They are hoping for broad-based input and welcome comments from citizens, Dr. Recio said.

"Everyone is welcome to talk to us," Dr. Recio said.

Wells spoke in favor of holding the informal public hearing.

"I think we need to get folks from Beulaville, Faison," Wells said.

Two Evergreen Solutions employees have conducted interviews with every county department head, and a seven-person team will visit in late August to conduct an in-depth review of county operations.

Chairman Cary Turner inquired about the interview selection process. The company, not the county will select the employees interviewed, Ms. Recio said.

Evergreen Solutions has a list of all county employees, including their salaries, she said, and will make selections with that information.

The company could be back after the in-depth interviews to conduct follow-ups. It expects to release the full performance report in October or November.

The consulting company previously conducted an audit of the Duplin County school system, but at that time Evergreen Solutions employees were not allowed to meet with everyone in the schools and instead spoke with three pre-selected principals.