On September 10, 2014, the Community Council mailed a public records request regarding expenses to Edgecombe County, Nash County and the City of Rocky Mount. The request specifically asked for itemized expenses per elected official and manager to include but not limited to travel, schools, conferences, lodging and meals. We requested to receive a response within ten (10) business days and for the information to be sent in electronic format.
Edgecombe County – We received an incomplete response from Edgecombe County. The only response we received from Edgecombe County was a packet that contained photocopies of checks and receipts in a mailed packet on October 10, 2014. Edgecombe County did not send the information electronically and it appears it contains only 2 ½ years of expenses. Letters from our attorney were sent to Edgecombe County due to the delay in receiving a response and failure to send information electronically. To date Edgecombe County is unresponsive as we have not received any further response or the information electronically. It is clear Edgecombe County needs to improve their accounting detail. Edgecombe County Expenses
Nash County – We received a prompt reply from Nash County stating they received our public records request and the information was received on October 2, 2014 in the requested electronic format. Nash County only supplied three (3) years of information which coincides with the records retention policy issue by the NC Department of Cultural Resources. Commissioners Billy Morgan, Danny Tyson and Robbie Davis expenses predominately comprised of mileage reimbursements while Wayne Outlaw spent the least amount of all the commissioners. Nash County Expenses
City of Rocky Mount – We received a reply from Rocky Mount within the requested time frame stating they would provide us with the information for our review and at their convenience. Based upon this response, we hired an attorney to remind the City of Rocky Mount of their obligation to provide the requested information. On October 17, 2014, we received a printed ledger of expenses that was not itemized or in electronic format. Our attorney again sent the City of Rocky Mount a letter. To date we have not received the information electronically but we did meet with the City Finance Director to review the expenses that had no detail. Due to incomplete information it is difficult to analyze specific city council members. City of Rocky Mount Expenses
We have analyzed the expenses provided by the various entities that include travel, schools, conferences, lodging and meals. You can review them by clicking on the appropriate links. During this process we discovered selected elected officials travel more than others and the City of Rocky Mount spends more than the Edgecombe and Nash Counties combined. We also learned that the City of Rocky Mount will pay for the travel expenses which include transportation, meals and lodging for the spouse or guest of the elected official. We did not inquire if this applies to upper management of the City of Rocky Mount.
Citizens will spend approximately $79,000 per year for all our elected officials based on the average of the 2013 and 2014 expenses. By far Rocky Mount spends more per year than the counties combined. Based on documents provided, Rocky Mount on average spends 3.48 times more than Edgecombe County and 2.63 times more than Nash County in expenses for elected officials and managers.
Citizens should ask: Do the benefits outweigh the expenses? Could this money be directed elsewhere providing more benefit? Should our government do a better job of being more transparent? Is it proper for the City of Rocky Mount to pay the travel expenses of the spouse or guest of the elected official? Should the Community Council or others have to hire an attorney to receive public information? Why is Edgecombe County and the City of Rocky Mount not as responsive, to public information request, as Nash County?
We have coincided the publication of this data with “Sunshine Week”, which is an effort to promote an open and transparent government. It is the right of every citizen to know how our government works and where our money is spent. We encourage everyone to get involved and stay informed.