Last updated: December 03. 2013 9:08AM - 782 Views
By - jbaxley@civitasmedia.com

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PEMBROKE — An auditor told the Pembroke Council on Monday night that the town’s finances are in good shape.

John Masters, a senior partner with the accounting firm S. Preston Douglas and Associates in Lumberton, gave the council a brief overview of the his 62-page report, which shows improvements in several categories.

The audit placed the town’s General Fund at $757,429, the “highest it’s ever been,” according to Masters. The town’s cash- on-hand balance of $1.2 million also exceeds that of previous years.

The “most striking” change, according to Masters, was the town’s sales tax revenue.

The town collected $550,000 in sales tax during the 2012-13 fiscal year, a number that rivals that of “pre-recession revenue,” he said.

The town’s total structure debt also decreased “well-below” $5 million, according to Masters.

“This didn’t happen by accident,” Masters said. “It happened because of good stewardship and you all are to be commended for doing a good job.”

Mayor Milton Hunt was pleased with the report.

“I think it’s good news,” he said.

The first meeting in December is typically when local municipalities swear in recently elected members. That didn’t happen on Monday because the state Board of Elections is reviewing the election results. The results showed newcomer Channing Jones winning election and incumbent Allen Dial and challenger Teresa Locklear tied, a tie that was broken in Dial’s favor with the draw of a card.

In a race for the remaining two years on a term for a seat vacant since the death of Councilman Robert Williamson in early 2012, Mitch Lowry leads former Councilman Larry McNeill by four votes.

Councilman Larry Brooks, who didn’t seek re-election, is expected to remain on the council until the swearing-in ceremony, which is expected to happen on Jan. 6.

In other business:

— Shantonia Bullard, an art teacher at Purnell Swett High School, and Dana Reilly, a dance teacher, received permission from council to hold a 5K run and additional festivities at the Pembroke Old Town Park on March 1 to raise money for the school.

— Celvin Sampson was reappointed to handle mosquito control for the town.

— Town Attorney Gary Locklear said that Verizon Communications intends to install three new cell phone antennas atop the water tower on Normal Street. In 2011, the town approved a contract allowing Verizon to install additional antennas on the tower. Though Verizon paid a “handsome sum” for its initial residency of the tower, according to Locklear, its contract stipulates that it will not have to pay add antennas.

Locklear wants to revisit the contract..

“… I want to see if we can squeeze something out of them,” he said.

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