State wants assurances before approving loan for Sylva fire department

The town of Sylva continues to be plagued by a financial mistake made last year in which $2 million in town funds were invested in accounts not allowed by state statute.

At the town commission meeting last week, Mayor Brenda Oliver informed the board that the Local Government Commission is not going to process a loan application for the fire department expansion until the LGC is satisfied proper procedures are in place to prevent future mistakes.

Interim Town Manger Chris Crater said the LGC is supposed to approve a loan of $2.3 million for the fire department expansion that is scheduled to go to bid in May.

The LGC was also concerned that the town is not adequately documenting credit card expenses. Carter said he wrote back to the LGC last week stating that the town now has procedures in place for investing public finds and documenting credit card use. In regards to the investments, Carter stated in his letter that the town commissioners immediately addressed the issue once it was discovered by transferring the funds to allowable accounts. Carter added in his letter to LGC that the town has a comprehensive set of policies dealing with cash management. The policy states that the town may only invest public money into the North Carolina Capital Management Trust and fully insured FDIC accounts.

The town had invested the $2 million into mutual funds that were not allowed under state statute because they are considered too risky. Furthermore, Carter noted in his letter that former Town Manager Jay Denton, who was responsible for the investments, was terminated over the matter.

As for the credit card issue, Carter stated in his letter that the town commissioners addressed that issue by amending its policy in December. Carter said on Monday, April 6 that he had not heard a response from the LGC. Mayor Oliver said she thinks the LGC will see that the town has addressed the issues and approve the borrowing for the fire department expansion.

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