MATTHEWS – The Matthews Board of Commissioners is keeping the public hearing open for the 2022-23 fiscal year budget after a resident raised concerns about the timely release of financial documents. 

Resident Fred Reill told commissioners that the town usually releases its comprehensive annual financial report in November or December, which allows the public to review the data for the previous year. He requested commissioners defer the public hearing from May 22 to June.

“The fact that the current year report is released almost six months later than normal and almost one year after the audit period is concerning,” Reill wrote in a letter to leaders. That letter was read during the public comment portion of the May 22 meeting.

Town Manager Becky Hawke said the public hearing had been appropriately advertised and staff was prepared to give details on last year’s audit that Reill referenced in his remarks. 

“There is no information continued in that report that would give me concerns about the ability to continue with the public hearing this evening,” Hawke told commissioners May 22. 

Hawke went ahead with her budget presentation. No one spoke during the public hearing about the budget. 

Commissioner Mark Tofano requested commissioners keep the public hearing open until the next meeting since the public hearing did not attract any public comments. 

“There seems to be some concern and I think its valid concerns on the part of the commenter,” Tofano said. “Even though theoretically we have done a massive mount of advertising, according to our manager, we have no one showing up here for public comment on one of the most important issues of our town. So I think there is something askew here and I just think it would be beneficial to the town and to the citizens to let it go one more meeting.”

Higdon said he didn’t disagree with Tofano but said the budget generally doesn’t attract more than three or four speakers. Commissioners voted in support of Tofano's motion. The board will continue the public hearing June 12. 

Former Commissioner Chris Melton submitted a letter in support of the budget. He liked the town’s pay plan for staff, paving budget and funding for Fire Station No. 3.

“This budget is thoughtfully designed to address the needs of the community and I command your efforts in its formulation,” Melton wrote. 

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