The Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners this week approved a contract with Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co. for the county’s fiscal year 2021 audit despite their ongoing inability to complete the 2020 audit.

Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co. will be paid $67,500 to write the financial statements and audit the county’s finances for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

Additionally, the firm will be paid another $12,500 to perform the same service for the Edgecombe County Tourism Development Authority.

District 7 Commissioner Wayne Hines asked County Manager Eric Evans about the scope of the contract and was told that Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co. would be responsible for all aspects of the 2021 budget, including the preparation of financials as well as the audit.

“Are we up to date?” Hines asked. “There are six months left (in the fiscal year) … are we going to be ready? The logical process would be to prepare the information as we go month-to-month.”

Evans said, “Yes, sir. We’ll be up to date.”

He also told the five members of the board who were present that the 2020 budget — for which the county was called on the carpet in December by Deputy State Treasurer Sharon Edmundson for being two years late — would be completed by the end of February.

Evans said the county has committed $129,000 to the preparation of the errant 2020 budget, citing $65,500 to Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co. and $49,000 to Carr, Riggs & Ingram.

The two firms have been tag-teaming the budget, with Carr, Riggs & Ingram preparing financials and collecting data to assist Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co. in the audit preparation.

“I’m not sure we’ll be using Carr to help with the ’21 budget,” Evans told commissioners. “They don’t have the staff.”

Following Monday’s meeting, Evans said a consultant assisting with the 2020 budget was being paid $10,000 out of the county manager’s professional services account.

Evans had mentioned the consultant at the county’s January meeting and said at that time that the consultant was helping make great strides in finally getting the 2020 budget completed and submitted to the state.

Edgecombe County is now operating under an extension to avoid having to repay $3.7 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for money the county received for its water and sewer system.

Edmundson told commissioners in December that late audits were not a new issue for Edgecombe County.

“You have been late every year since 2015,” she said. “You are showing a lack of accountability.”