02/11/14 — Fremont will wait to hire administrator

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Fremont will wait to hire administrator

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on February 11, 2014 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- The town is suspending its search for a new town administrator to control expenditures following the resignation of its past administrator in November.

Former Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie left Fremont to accept the position as town manager of Southport.

Following his resignation, Barbara Aycock took over as Interim town administrator on a part-time basis.

She will stay in this position until the Town Board of Aldermen revisit the issue in December.

Ms. Aycock works 20 hours a week, Monday through Thursday. in the mornings from 8:30 a.m. until just after lunch.

She is paid $30,500 annually with no benefits.

The full-time administrator position was advertised at $55,000 with benefits.

By staying in the job part-time, the town is saving money it needs to solidify the town's finances following a recent audit of the 2012-13 fiscal year that revealed multiple violations.

"The board is going to stay with an interim until the finances improve," Ms. Aycock said. "Right now every (purchase order) comes across my desk first before it is signed."

The position will be advertised again once the town is ready to hire a full-time administrator.

Applications accepted in the first round will be given consideration during that time as well, Ms. Aycock said.

With a nearly $600,000 hit to the town's various funds over the 2012-13 year, town officials are pinching pennies.

That is in addition to the problems revealed in the recent audit.

The town incurred three state violations stemming from its accounting practices, said Andrew Harris, the accountant handling the audit.

The violations included over-appropriating money in the General Fund, not having a balanced budget due to the over-appropriation and spending restricted Powell Bill funds for general obligations.

Powell Bill money is appropriated by the state to municipalities to make repairs on non-Department of Transportation maintained streets, sidewalks, gutters and other transportation uses.

The audit showed that at the end of the year, the town's entire General Fund, nearly $120,000, was made up entirely of Powell Bill money.

The town's Powell Bill funds total almost $240,000.

Ms. Aycock said the money was transferred from the restricted Powell Bill fund to the unrestricted General Fund to reimburse the town for Powell Bill expenditures during the year, but that none of the money was used.

It was done early because the town had no money in the General Fund to support the town, she said.

"It was used to cover us if the money needed to be spent," Ms. Aycock said.

She said it is normal to wait until the end of the year to make that transfer, but the town was forced to move it earlier to keep operations going.