The Goldsboro City Council received an update on the status of its 2020-21 fiscal year audit and expects the document to be presented in December.
Chad Cook, FORVIS certified public accountant, presented the audit update remotely on behalf of FORVIS during the council work session Monday.
FORVIS, based in Springfield, Missouri, was officially formed in late May through a merger between Charlotte-based Dixon Hughes Goodman — which had been handling the city’s audits prior to the merger — and Springfield, Missouri-based Baird, Kurtz and Dobson.
“We are getting very close to being done,” Cook told council. “We’ll caveat the information to say it’s pending potential adjustments as we wrap up our procedures. There are certainly things that could be caught at final review. However, at this point, we don’t foresee any additional adjustments.”
The auditing firm is scheduled to present the city’s completed audit for fiscal year 2020-21 during the council’s Dec. 19 meeting.
Preliminary findings of the audit show the total fund balance of the city’s general fund increased from $9 million in fiscal year 2019-20 to $10.9 million in fiscal year 2020-21.
Expenditures in the city’s general fund, which includes personnel salaries, capital projects and general spending, decreased from $41.6 million to $38.5 million between fiscal year 2019-20 and 2020-21, according to the preliminary report.
“So from fiscal ’20 to fiscal ’21, you’ll see a little over a $3 million decrease in the total expenditures there,” Cook said. “As a result, available fund balance is up to 13.8% so you are trending in the right direction there.”
The amount of money that the city had available to spend from its general fund in fiscal year 2020-21 was listed at $5.3 million, up from $3.4 million in fiscal year 2019-20.
As a result of the decreased spending and increased fund balance amount in the city’s general fund, 13.8% of the city’s general fund was available to spend, up from 8.3% in fiscal year 2019-20, according to Cook’s presentation.
The 8.3% availability was just above the 8% threshold recommended for local governments by the state Local Government Commission.
The status of the audit follows several years of the city having its audits completed late, sparking concern from the LGC and triggering a state probe of city finances by State Auditor Beth Wood.
Wood launched the investigation in March after years of delinquent audits by city of Goldsboro staff and questions regarding the fiscal health and accountability of city finances.
Wood’s office has not concluded the investigation that Wood and her staff estimated would be finished by Sept. 30.
The council did not discuss the audit following Cook’s presentation.
LaToya Henry, Goldsboro public information officer, said in October that FORVIS staff planned to finish the audit in November and the city’s fiscal 2021-22 audit in February.
Auxiliary Police Force
Also during the work session, the council voted to approve a change to the city code of ordinances involving responsibilities of the city police and fire departments.
The change allows for the creation of an auxiliary police force composed of volunteers, said Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West.
West told council that the auxiliary officers, also known as reserve officers, would supplement the work of the police department’s full-time police officers.
Auxiliary police officers would have the same authority of a full-time officer, including the power to arrest suspects and offenders.
Auxiliary police can carry firearms on duty and carry concealed firearms when off-duty.
West did not discuss if adding the auxiliary police officers is in response to having double-digit officer vacancies at the Goldsboro Police Department.
In June, West said the department had 30 vacancies out of the 108 positions within the police department.
The council also decided Monday to delay discussion on potential changes to the city’s panhandling ordinance to Dec. 5.
The topic was tabled after Councilwoman Brandi Matthews made a motion to delay talks so more research could be completed.
“I am requesting, actually, that we remove it from the agenda and that we place it on the next meeting’s agenda due to some more research and conversation that I think we could have surrounding this issue,” Matthews said.
On Nov. 7, West discussed with council the city’s panhandling ordinance and said the ordinance needed wording changes because it did not properly define aggressive panhandling.
GPD Capt. Jason Adams proposed requiring people who want to panhandle to have a permit in order to ask for money.
The recommendations from West and Adams led to discussion among council as to how far panhandlers would have to be from people when they panhandle, where they can panhandle and the hours during which they can ask for money. Council did not make a decision during the Nov. 7 meeting but decided to revisit the issue Monday.
Proposed changes to the ordinance would prohibit panhandlers from asking for money within 100 feet of any financial institution or automatic teller machine and within 20 feet of bus stops, train stations, taxi stands, outdoor dining areas during businesses hours, and any retail business between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.