Tryon considers new policies on finances

Published 10:00 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

LGC requests policy review on credit cards, fund balance

TRYON – Tryon Town Council recently approved a first reading of a new financial policy at the request of the N.C. Local Government Commission (LGC).

Council met June 20 and heard from town manager Zach Ollis, who drafted the new policy. Ollis said the policy works to outline the way in which funds are spent and also makes an effort to explain purchasing rules and procedures.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The policy implements a new credit card purchasing policy to help ensure the town can run efficiently and correctly,” Ollis said.

A new driving policy is also included at the request of the town’s insurance carrier. The new driving policy informs all employees of safe driving habits and requirements, according to Ollis, and must be signed and placed in all employee personnel files.

Included in the proposed financial policy is for the town to keep a 30 percent or greater available fund balance.

“For the General Fund, management shall conduct the business of the town in such a manner that available fund balance is at least equal to or greater than 30 percent of budgeted expenditures for the succeeding fiscal year,” states the draft policy.

The policy also states the board may appropriate fund balances that will reduce the available fund balance below the percentage established above for the purpose of a declared fiscal emergency or other such global purpose as to protect the long-term fiscal security of the town.

“In such circumstances, the board will adopt a plan to restore the available fund balances to the policy level within 36 months from the date of appropriation,” states the draft policy. “If restoration cannot be accomplished within such time without severe hardship to the town, then the board will establish a different but appropriate time.”

Tryon’s available fund balance at the end of fiscal year 2016-2017, which was the last audited year, was $210,120, or 13.6 percent.

On credit cards, the town’s draft policy states that the town manager is authorized on behalf of the Town of Tryon to make appropriate application for Visa credit cards and that no charge may be made against such credit cards unless the town’s budget ordinance includes an appropriation authorizing such charge.

The policy states that if someone charges an item to a town credit card, the charge must be verified with a receipt or the employee will be held personally responsible for the charge.

Although not mentioned as the reason for the new credit card policy in the town’s discussion, in January, the town fired then fire chief Joey Davis for using a town credit card to pay for then commissioner Roy Miller’s personal bills. Miller resigned and both Miller and Davis are currently facing charges in federal court. Davis was charged federally with federal program fraud conspiracy and Miller was charged with federal program fraud conspiracy, federal program fraud, extortion under color of official right and witness tampering.

The federal court cases for both Miller and Davis have been continued in federal court in Asheville until Sept. 5.

The credit card charges were discovered during the town’s most recent audit last year. Tryon did not previously have financial policies such as the one currently being considered.

“The town manager, town clerk and other staff members as deemed appropriate by the town manager are authorized to make charges against the town’s credit card(s),” states the draft policy. “All charges against such credit card(s) shall be paid in full each month. All charges must be verified by itemized receipt or the individual who placed the charge against the credit card will be responsible for paying the charge. Access to the purchasing card may be suspended at the discretion of the town manager.”

Ollis said he wanted to create a financial policy to get the town on the right track. After being asked by the insurance company if the town would look into a driving policy, he decided a driving policy would be a good thing as well.

Commissioners unanimously approved a first reading of the new policies and plan to do a second and final reading during its August meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 15.