by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
This might be the first year in a long time that municipalities and counties live up to their financial reporting obligations if a law passed in 2019 works.
Each year, counties and municipalities around North Carolina are required to submit an Annual Financial Information Report (AFIR) to the State Treasurer. They are actually supposed to provide a lot more information on a more regular basis, as detailed on pages 71-83 of this report.
A quarter (25 of 100) of counties and 198 of 553 municipalities, however, have no AFIR information available through the Treasurer’s website for fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30. The most recent financial report for Northampton and Sampson counties is from 2014.
Financial information this far out of date is not helpful for anybody. State Auditor Beth Wood was able to get a bill passed and signed into law in 2019 that should make it easier for local governments to meet their financial reporting requirements even as it increases the standards for local government auditing.