North Carolina Newspapers

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Vol. 13, No. 1
A Shoreline Community, Pine Knoll Shores, N.C.
January 2018
Town Achieves Star Safety Status
By Jenn Lotz Williams
Town employees work together to make safety a priority
After taking the helm as Fire Chief of Pine Knoll Shores in 2011, Jason Baker
evaluated the towns safety policy and procedures and quickly realized that Pine
Knoll Shores was susceptible to federal fines and that employee safety was often
compromised. This led him on a five-year campaign that advocated for the safety
of town employees, produced cost savings for its residents and changed the towns
workplace culture to one that empowers employees and encourages accountability.
Pine Knoll Shores began the application process for the North Carolina
Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division Carolina Star
Program in 2012. To begin the journey to Star status, Chief Baker contacted Lamont
Smith, Director of Recognition Programs for the Occupational Safety and Health
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Pine Knoll Shores employees and members of the town’s Safety Committee hold the Carolina
Star Program flag and certificate, Pictured from left; Town Clerk Sarah Williams, Tax Collector
Connie Shelton, Police Corporal Corey Bishop, Pubic Works member Howard Henderson,
Fire Chief Jason Baker, Building-Inspector Jim Taylor, NC Department of Labor Commissioner
Cherie Berry, Human Resources Officer Natalie Gibble, Public Works Director Sonny
Cunningham and OSHA Director of Recognition Programs Lamont Smith.
—Photo by Jenn Lotz William
Standard
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Permit #35
Atlantic Beach, NC 28512
Administration (OSHA). Mr. Smith soon visited Pine Knoll Shores for an initial
inspection and analysis. The visit was eye-opening for Chief Baker and identified
several safety violations and hazards, which during a formal inspection could have
resulted in nearly $70,000 in fines for the town.
Chief Baker took the old town safety policy and set a goal to customize it
specifically for Pine Knoll Shores. He formed a committee that included Public
Works, Administration, Fire, Police and Inspection. The group started basic OSHA
housekeeping, identifying potential hazards within their own work areas and
departments. The town purchased new personal protective equipment (PPE), replaced
faulty fire alarms in the municipal building and hosted mandatory training on
ergonomics and office safety. Most importantly, he emphasized that all town employees
were essential to the program’s success.
“Everyone needed to be on board. It didn’t matter what your title was or where you
worked. If you identified something that was not OSTIA compliant or was a workplace
hazard, it was your responsibility to notify someone, no matter what,” said Chief Baker.
“We encouraged a cultural shift and reiterated that we are all responsible for workplace
safety.”
While the committee made great progress over the years in adopting workplace •
safety practices, there were still several unknowns for Chief Baker regarding the
Carolina Star Program application process. Then a chance meeting at a conference in
2014 connected Chief Baker with people who played a critical part in the program’s
success. Not only were they former OSHA employees with vast experience and insight,
but also they lived within a few miles of the Pine Knoll Shores fire station. Emerald
Isle residents Mary Carol Lewis Curran and Pat Curran were more than, willing to
(Continued on page 6)
Town Finances Are Sound
By Julie Anderson
No ... governments saving money is not an oxymoron
If you have ever been to a budget meeting or audit presentation of a local
government, you likely have heard the terms “fund balance” or “reserves.” What does
that mean? Local governments use fund accounting to track assets and liabilities.
An accounting fund is a separate fiscal and bookkeeping unit, with its own set of
balancing accounts. Simply stated, the fund balance is an accumulation of revenues
minus expenditures in a given fund.
Fund balance commonly serves three objectives. First, it provides the town with
cash fiow because the bulk of our operating revenues (property taxes) are not received
until late December/early January, which is halfway through the fiscal year. Secondly,
fund balance provides us with an emergency fund. A local government cannot raise
money quickly during the fiscal year; therefore, our fund balance provides available
resources to cover unexpected operating or capital expenses. Finally, building up
fund balance saves money over time for future capital expenditures, another common
practice.
Tne Local Government Commission (LGC) is a North Carolina state agency with
oversight responsibility for local government financial practices. The LGC sets a
minimum fund balance goal for counties and municipalities at 8% of annual general
(Continued on page 6)
    

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