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Rocky Mount mayor calls on councilman to step down after nearly $50K in utility bill write-offs

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ROCKY MOUNT — Mayor Sandy Roberson has called for a council member who received nearly $50,000 in unpaid utility bill write-offs to step forward and resign.

Roberson said Monday he’s spent the last few days conferring with District Attorney Robert Evans, lawyers with the N.C. Attorney General’s Office and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation to find out whether criminal charges are merited as result of the revealing report made public Friday by N.C. State Auditor Beth Wood. He planned to meet with Wood later in the day Monday. 

The report doesn’t specifically identify Mayor Pro-tem Andre Knight at the council member who didn’t pay utility bills for two decades, but instead had high-ranking city employees stop collection efforts, prevent service disconnection and ultimately write off his unpaid bills totaling $47,407.

This newspaper obtained city utility records that link Knight to the unpaid bills.

Wood said Sunday that the council member’s identity is a matter of public record and if the city didn’t disclose the information, she would.

City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney should reimburse taxpayers for the money she spent on steak and lobster meals and a seafood bucket, according to recommendations made by the audit report and seconded by Roberson during his Monday afternoon online press conference.

Roberson said all council members should sign an ethics contract, reveal all conflicts of interest and begin to televise council meetings. The mayor has set a special emergency meeting of the city council for Thursday.