Princeville Coming Back Into Its Own
Posted January 6, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST
PRINCEVILLE — Imagine a town being in such a financial mess that the state had to take it over. It happened in Princeville a few months ago, but now, Princeville has become the first North Carolina town to have its reins handed back.
Town leaders have a plan to keep the state away in the future. For the first time in nearly a year, the town's leaders are the ones in charge of their town. Mayor Delia Perkins says that Princeville is back on track.
Last February, the state took over Princeville after former town leaders misspent money and botched local tax collections. Now, after months of state-ordered reforms, financial authority is back in the hands of local leaders.
First, state officials will restore Princeville's authority to write checks and take care of its accounts again. The town will also be able to set its own tax rate, though it has agreed not to make any changes right now without state approval.
Finally, local leaders will be able to handle day-to-day town operations again, and make small budget decisions without calling the state to get permission.
During the worst of the crisis, an internal squabble forced one Princeville police officer to guard the town. Business owner Paul Shirley says the citizens suffered.
Thanks to reforms, three law enforcement officers are in place now, and the town is collecting taxes more efficiently than it has in nearly 20 years.
Local leaders agree the state plan worked, but they're still ready to take control while avoiding the mistakes of the past.
Princeville has also improved its resources while under state leadership. Since last February, city leaders have erased a massive deficit and increased their budget to more than 20 times its former level.