Tarboro council remains mum on Noble investigation

By John Carson

Staff Writer

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TARBORO – The Town Council emerged from a 45-minute closed session Monday and approved a response to a report from the state auditor’s office investigation of former Town Manager Sam Noble.

State auditors are investigating Noble’s purchasing and expense practices while he served the town.

Council members offered no additional details of either the auditor’s report or the town’s response.

“Everything is confidential until we get the final report from the state auditor,” Town Attorney Chad Hinton said.

Additional questions about a timetable on when the council could expect that final report, as well as when the investigation into Noble would be resolved also were unanswered.

“All that is confidential,” Hinton said.

The council also finalized a three-year process to purchase garbage trucks during the regular meeting Monday.

The council approved financing terms for two new garbage trucks, purchases initially discussed during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Town Manager Alan Thornton said the purchase had been approved in the 2013-14 budget, but buying the trucks “carried over into 2014-15.”

The $345,000 cost to purchase the trucks will be paid over five years with an annual interest rate of 2.19 percent, which Thornton called an “extremely good rate.”

However, before a vote was taken on the financing terms, Ward 8 Councilman Garland Shepheard raised objections.

“We need to take a stand,” Shepheard said. “It is time for the town to stop borrowing money. We’re just digging ourselves into a hole. We’ve borrowed an awful lot of money over the past two years for vehicles.”

Asking if there was a line item in the 2014-15 budget for the purchase, Shepheard was informed by Thornton there was not because the council approved funding for the purchase in last year’s budget.

Ordered in February, the trucks cost $172,582 each with the total to be paid in annual installments of $73,598.16 beginning July 1, 2015.

The council approved the financing plan with only Shepheard dissenting.

In other action, the council held public hearings on a change in the town’s taxicab ordinance and a review of an expiring Community Block Development Grant for the training of town personnel to enhance grant processes.

No members of the public spoke on either issue.

In addition, tax levy adjustments for 2013 were approved along with the appointment of new town Finance Director Ann Mann to a two-year term as treasurer of the Firemen’s Relief Fund Board of Trustees and finance officer of the Tarboro-Edgecombe Airport Authority.

Mann’s appointments filled vacancies created by the departure of former town Finance Director Karla McCall.

Before going into closed session, the council waded through several 2013-14 budget issues raised by Shepheard that proved to be effectively moot.