PRINCEVILLE, N.C. — A move last week by the Edgecombe County town of Princeville to shut off water to about 200 customers who didn't pay their bills has prompted some town leaders to speak out about concerns that the town is in dire straits financially.
"We don't have any money. The town does not have any money," Princeville Town Commissioner Ann Howell said Monday.
Earlier this month, Princeville received a warning from the state treasurer’s Local Government Commission notifying town leaders that the town has outstanding debt on a Water and Sewer Fund loan for more than $300,000 and that the commission believes the town could default on the loan unless it improves its financial practices.
Some members of the commission agree.
"We just need help in Princeville now," Town Commissioner Gwendolyn Knight said. "We're in the stage where it has really gotten critical."
The warning told the town it needed to develop a plan to improve the financial conditions of the Water and Sewer Fund. The state also wants to look at the town's accounting records.
"I feel that the LGC should just come down and take the books until we have another election," Howell said.
Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates, who became mayor in 2010, wasn't available for an interview Monday but said last week that cutting off access to water for a quarter of the town shows Princeville is committed to collecting the money it is owed.
She said Monday that she questions why the state issued a warning to the town now, when she says the previous administration also had financial issues.
She and other top officials drafted a letter last week saying that Howell, Knight and former Mayor Perkins are against her administration. She blames Perkins for the town's financial situation.
"Those of us who live in Princeville are just concerned that the mismanagement is so widespread that our little town is going under," Perkins said.