Town of Pikeville Successfully Pilots the Municipal Accounting Services Program

Isabella Mormando, Communications Associate

The Town of Pikeville was celebrated by the League for being one of the first pilot towns to implement the League’s Municipal Accounting Services (MAS) Program. With ARP funding, the MAS Program continues to support the Town of Pikeville to overcome obstacles and provides assistance to town employees free of charge until 2026.

The Town of Pikeville sits quietly among rich farmland on the north-central coastal plain of North Carolina. The town occupies a half-square mile where 700 people call home.

In the years following the pandemic, the town was having trouble managing its finances. The Local Government Commission (LGC) assumed control of Pikeville’s finances in 2021.

“There was no question that we didn’t know what we were doing. Coming in as a new mayor I was awfully happy to learn from them,” said Pikeville Mayor Garrett Johnston. “We totally submitted ourselves to their program and what they had to offer.”

Eric Faust from the Department of State Treasurer was the LGC-appointed Finance Officer for the town. After working under the guidance of Eric and Deputy Finance Officer Michael Milam, Pikeville regained control of its finances in December 2022.

Faust worked with the League during the development of the Municipal Accounting Services (MAS) program and provided advice for the League’s MAS Program.

The MAS program helps small towns in North Carolina convert their financial and accounting processes to Black Mountain Software. Through the software, cities can manage payroll, utility billing, taxes, and other common municipal needs. The League provides expert point-of-contacts on our staff for these transitioning towns to ask questions and work through problems as they arise.

After working with the Town of Pikeville, Faust suggested that Pikeville would be a promising first candidate to transition its financial system through the League’s MAS program.

Wendy Holland, Town Clerk and Finance Officer of Pikeville, praises NCLM staff for their willingness and ability to help the town through their conversion process.

NCLM Accounting Specialist Tracy Chestnutt has worked closely with Holland throughout the conversion process and will remain a consultant with the Town of Pikeville until the end of 2026.

“Tracy has been very helpful in not only the software but the financials and other unanswered questions. She’s just so knowledgeable,” Holland said.

Holland has worked for the Town of Pikeville for two years and has over 28 years of accounting experience but admits that joining the world of municipal governing is a learning journey.

“There’s only three of us in the office,” Holland explained. “With the new software, it’s a learning curve… Everyone with the League, you call and ask a question and they give you an answer… it’s just helped tremendously with everything, not just the software, with everything. It’s a blessing really.”

The Town of Pikeville is one of two pilot towns to successfully convert to Black Mountain Software, along with the Town of Jonesville.

To celebrate the long, financial journey the Town of Pikeville has undergone over the past few years, NCLM Executive Director Rose Williams, MAS Senior Consultant Perry James, and Tracy Chestnutt joined Pikeville’s town hall meeting on October 9.

Mayor Johnston received the MAS Program completion plaque on behalf of Pikeville. Holland and Tim Biggerstaff, Town Manager, received certificates of completion as well.

“It’s not just about us, it’s about small towns in North Carolina having a more efficient program and being able to run things with better accountability,” said Mayor Johnston.

Mayor Johnston witnessed firsthand the struggles his town was having in managing its finances. He realized that oftentimes it’s not about someone intentionally trying to mismanage accounts, there’s just a lack of experience in the municipal accounting field. With the Black Mountain Software “it takes the guesswork out of what we’re doing,” he said.

The Town of Pikeville recently received its budget ask of $1 million from Rep. John Bell to renovate its parks, revitalize downtown with a new town hall, and develop community initiatives for the town’s people to spearhead.

Now that the town is operating in the Black Mountain Software, it makes that money much easier to manage, monitor, and plan.

“The town was drowning, and the state and the League came in like a life raft and we were able to get out of our mess,” said Mayor Johnston. “We want to inspire people with what we’re doing… and whatever we do, we need to do with excellence.”