Per the N&O, a state audit released today slams the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, a largely state-funded organization that was the subject a highly critical series of investigative reports recently.
State auditors found multiple concerns at the Rural Center, among them:
• Inadequate monitoring of grant recipients and “deficiencies” in internal control.
• A lack of action against grantees when they fail to comply with grant terms.
• Unallowable expenses charged to the state, including money for salaries and a $7,025 catered anniversary luncheon.
“The Rural Center’s failure to adequately apply monitoring procedures resulted in an inability to hold its … grantees accountable for how taxpayer dollars were spent,” the audit says. “There is an increased risk that more than $58.8 million in grant funds spent in fiscal year 2012 were not used for their intended purpose.”
The audit also found Center president Billy Ray Hall’s $221,000 salary “unreasonable” and disclosed a near quarter-million dollar severance fund for Hall above and beyond his regular retirement account.
The Rural Center was also the focus of a two-part Civitas article, has recently had a board member call for a comprehensive audit (more comprehensive than the state government audit), and has been found to have granted money to radical left-wing groups participating in “Moral Monday” protests.
The timing of the audit and other recent controversies is quite unfortunate for the Rural Center as legislators work to decide if the group should receive funding in the coming state budget.