By Tim Gardner
The public release of a positive annual audit highlighted the Newland Board of Aldermen meeting January 8.
Aldermen (Town Council members)– Kenny Caraway, Lauren Turbyfill, Dave Calvert and Jamey Johnson were present. Alderman Greg Seiz was absent. Other town officials present included: Mayor Valerie Jaynes; Town Administrator Keith Hoilman; Finance Director Lisa Meinhardt; Town Attorney Joe Seegers; and Town Clerk and Board of Aldermen secretary Tammy Gardner.
It was the first meeting for Alderman Dave Calvert after he was reappointed to the Board on December 4, 2018 by a 3-2 vote.
Calvert will fill the remainder of the two-year term of former Board member Joleta Wise who was killed in a vehicle accident on May 31, 2018.
Calvert’s new term will expire in December 2019.
Caraway and Seiz voted for Calvert, while Turbyfill and Johnson voted against. No action can legally pass with a deadlock vote. But under provisions of a town ordinance, when there is an even number of members of the governing Board of Aldermen, the Mayor can choose to cast a decisive vote in case of a tie. Mayor Jaynes broke the tie by voting for Calvert’s appointment.
Calvert had previously served on the Newland Board of Aldermen before losing his seat in the 2017 election.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Misty Watson of Boone
Watson told the Aldermen that last year’s 2017-18 audit went well and that the town received a favorable and passing grade. Watson added that there were no needed adjustments for the audit and she commended Meinhardt for compiling a through report of the town’s finances to use in the audit.
Anyone desiring to obtain a copy of the complete audit report can contact Meinhardt in person at Town Hall or by calling (828) 733-2023.
The Aldermen voted to hire Watson to conduct the town’s 2017-18 audit during their regular monthly meeting May 1, 2018 by a 4-1 vote. Caraway, Seiz and Turbyfill and Wise voted in favor and Johnson against.
Watson also conducted the Town’s 2016-17 audit. Her bid to perform this past fiscal year’s (2017-18) audit was not the lowest. CPA Cynthia Randolph of West Jefferson bid $12,000.00 to conduct the audit. Wilson Reyes and Associates CPA Firm of Charlotte placed a $14,000.00 bid. The Young, Miller and Gillespie CPA Firm of Spruce Pine ($21,500.00) made the highest bid. Some of the bids did not include additional miscellaneous costs that the respective accountants might incur during the auditing process.
Caraway said when Watson was hired to do this past fiscal year’s budget that “the lowest bid is not always the best one and we (the Board) need to look at who will do the best audit for the town.” He also noted then that Watson could wind up performing the audit at a cost less than her bid because it might take her less time preparing it since she performed the 2016-17 audit and is familiar with the town’s financial records.
All government entities are required by law to have an annual audit.
During the public comments segment, Donna Burnop stated her and her husband, David Burnop, wanted to let the town officials know about their business, Back Alley Pickers, located on Estatoa Street, and that they may be expanding it. Donna Burnop also stated she was concerned about parking near her business and the town has limited space for parking elsewhere. She asked about a crosswalk light for people to use and then cross the street to the new location. Hoilman said he would talk to the Department of Transportation about Donna Burnop’s request.
Police Chief Byron Clawson told the aldermen that the police department was awarded a 2002 Chevy Equinox by the courts system. Clawson also said that police officer Chris Clark has completed a pepper spray class and can now carry the aerosol substance used for self-defense with him while on duty.
Caraway told his fellow Board members that his wife, Vicki, a long-time nursing instructor, would teach Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to anyone employed by the town who would like to become certified in it.
In other business, Jaynes introduced a Proclamation for “Thank Your Mentor Day” and “Mentoring Month,” which the aldermen approved (4-0).
The Aldermen’s next regular monthly meeting will be held Tuesday, February 5, 2018. It will commence at 6:00 p.m. in Town Hall, located at 301 Cranberry Street.