Lumbee handbook contract raises questions in HUD review

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Shambaugh, Jaclyn. "Lumbee handbook contract raises questions in HUD review." Fayetteville Observer. May 13, 2011.


According to a March 2011 review of tribal spending by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the handbook for the Lumbee Tribe Boys and Girls Club cost the tribe more than $30,000. The book contains all the information that a new member needs in 10 pages. The book has typos and grammatical errors, and was written by Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend.

The HUD report states Lowry-Townsend was paid $110 per hour to write the handbook, receiving payments from Feb. 19, 2010, to May 11, 2010, that totaled $30,312.48, meaning she was paid for more than 275 hours of work on the handbook. She was then hired as the tribal administrator by Purnell Swett. She remained the tribal administrator until May 7, 2011.

Ron Ross headed the Cumberland County club until 1996 before moving to the Boys and Girls Club of Lumberton-Robeson County. He said he has done away with a handbook altogether."If you come in to sign up your child, you get our application and on the back of that are our rules," Ross said. "That's what a membership handbook would have in it. We do it in one page."

The HUD review revealed the hourly rate exceeded the consultant services compensation limit of $74.76 per hour. And because the contract was out of compliance with HUD policies, the tribe must reimburse the full amount paid to Lowry-Townsend using nonhousing funds within 30 days of May 6, 2011, the date the report was sent to the tribe.

Her stint as tribal administrator was the focus of another complaint addressed in the HUD report. While the report stated that contract length and pay were matters best handled by the local Lumbee government, HUD found fault with Lowry-Townsend's severance package, which would have required the tribe to pay the administrator twice her salary if her contract were terminated for any reason other than death or incapacitating disability, with no limit on how long payments would have to be made.

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