State Auditor Beth Wood’s office has released a scathing audit of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, run by Billy Ray Hall. Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports.

A new state audit has come down hard on the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center for keeping $20 million in interest from unspent funds while providing what state Auditor Beth Wood concluded was excessive pay for the organization’s top officials.

In the report (PDF), Wood said Rural Center President Billy Ray Hall “misleads the reader” five different times in his response to the audit report.

In addition, the report chided the Rural Center for failing to verify job creation and other performance measures for at least five years, and failing to enforce grant reporting requirements diligently.

Carolina Journal first raised questions about the Rural Center’s funding priorities and management in 1997. But Wednesday’s audit was the first independent state review of the center’s activities.

Wood acknowledged that the audit was hard-hitting.

“It’s hundreds of millions of our tax dollars going out and nobody’s appropriately overseeing it,” Wood said. 

To find out more about what’s in the audit — including the state auditor’s comments about Hall’s salary — read all of the Carolina Journal story.