The folks running the city of Goldsboro owe the people some explanation.

We’ve recently learned that the city’s 2019 audit is delayed. The city expected that the tardy report to the state could be complete by the end of November. Unfortunately, it has not been done. But it may be done by the end of the year.

That’s speculation. We know the audit was due Oct 31, 2019, to the state’s Local Government Commission. Please note that date was in 2019. That means it is more than 13 months old. That is out of control.

Sure, the city could have many reasonable reasons for the report’s delay. But those reasons have not been well communicated, if at all. A lack of communication may be the reason why Moody’s Investors Service withdrew its Aa2 credit rating on nearly $16.5 million in city bond debt and the N.C. Housing Finance Agency suspended reimbursements for $725,000 in home-repair grants in Goldsboro. A handful of other cities across the country experienced the same slap on the knuckles from Moody’s, which the company put out in an August statement. Thirteen units of government across the nation, including Goldsboro, had credit ratings withdrawn by Moody’s in August. But Goldsboro was the only local government in North Carolina penalized.

At this point, the reasons for the delays — of the 2019 audit and now the 2020 audit — are immaterial. The focus must be getting them done, and done in time to keep Goldsboro from being even more negatively affected. What the continued delays could mean to Goldsboro taxpayers is more money out of their pockets. A poor financial rating means paying higher interest on money the city borrows to do the people’s business.

People are not understanding their local government’s actions when they have their pockets picked for a few extra dollars to pay for bonds and city commitments.

A message to city leaders: Be upfront with the people. Be transparent. Sure, some people will yell and scream when the city government is not performing as it should. Most people, though, are empathetic when the city falls on rough times. We have all experienced them. But when city officials seek to hide or even cover up problems and keep them from the people, all understanding goes right out the window. Forgiveness at that point is hard to get.

Contact Duke Conover, News Argus editor, at dconover@newsargus.comor 252-676-6813.