Two representatives of the State Auditor’s Office met behind closed doors Tuesday with the Micro Board of Commissioners.
The meeting stemmed from an anonymous allegation of criminal wrongdoing in Micro. But the two auditors who came to Micro on Tuesday would not talk about the allegation, and Micro commissioners said only that they knew the state was investigating the town.
“They just said there had been an anonymous complaint and that they have to investigate every complaint,” Mayor Jay Warren said. “They said they would be in contact next week.”
While a sign on the front door of Town Hall announced a closed meeting “to plan, conduct or hear reports concerning investigations of alleged criminal conduct,” the auditors met one on one with Warren and Commissioners Russell Creech and Jay Langston. Commissioner Timothy Earp was out of town. The commissioners said the auditors did not tell them the nature of the allegations or their degree of validity.
Warren said the State Auditor’s Office first got in touch with him the week of Jan. 24 to request a meeting with the town’s elected leaders. He said the Auditor’s Office told him the complaint stemmed from something last July.
“I don’t know if maybe we inherited something from the previous administration,” said Warren, who won Micro’s mayoral race in November, unseating incumbent Jim Weisner.
Town attorney Leon Lucas, a Kenly lawyer, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting and would not comment on Micro being the subject of a state investigation.
This is the second time in five years the state has looked into Micro. In 2011, nearly $17,000 went missing from the town’s water and sewer fund. The town clerk at the time repaid $450 and then resigned.
Since 2010, financial woes have plagued Micro. At the time, the town’s cash reserves stood at zero percent of spending but rebounded to 20 percent in 2012. The state recommends that towns Micro’s size hold 95 percent of spending in reserve.
Smithfield accountant Keith Peedin reviews Micro’s books annually and said the town is in much better standing now.
“The numbers have improved,” Peedin said, adding that the state had not contacted him about Tuesday’s meeting. Peedin said he saw nothing unusual in his latest audit of Micro’s finances.
Bill Holmes, spokesman for the State Auditor’s Office, and said the office does not comment on investigations until it completes a report. He said the Micro meeting was simply an exchange of information and that the investigation resulted from an anonymous complaint.
“The law requires we look at every allegation, and that’s what we’re doing,” Holmes said. “Anyone can make an allegation. They’re all reviewed, and they all go different ways. It’s hard to say what’s typical or not.”
The State Auditor’s Office investigates financial misconduct and fraud by state agencies and local governments.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdjackson