One-time Isle of Wight donation sought

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

After agreeing to the much-debated terms of a memorandum of understanding regarding Isle of Wight County’s contribution of $250,000 toward the Joseph Luter Jr. sports complex, the town of Smithfield asked the county if it could give the full promised amount upfront.

The original agreement was that the county’s portion be paid out over a period of five years in annual installments of $50,000.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors voted to give $100,000 to the town this year, but opted to continue paying the additional $150,000 in installments of $50,000 over the next three years. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Smithfield Supervisor Dick Grice cast the only vote against the motion, stating he was in favor of paying the $250,000 all at once, as he said was requested.

“I would like for us just to get rid of it until we’re finished and we can go on to other things,” said Grice.

County Administrator Randy Keaton said that the county had budgeted the $50,000 last year for its promised contribution toward the facility, and did so again this year, so the $100,000 could be paid at once.

Grice brought the request from the town to the Board as an item of new business at the meeting Thursday, Nov. 16, saying he had been approached by someone from the town to accelerate the promised contribution following the Smithfield Town Council’s unanimous approval of the MOU Nov. 7.

The language of the MOU allows for a full payment of the $250,000, according to Grice.

Supervisors Rudolph Jefferson and William McCarty both said that citizens had been sold on the idea of yearly installments of $50,000, and hesitated to deviate from the course outlined in the MOU.

The information spurred Windsor Supervisor Joel Acree to also advocate for increased financial contributions toward the town of Windsor, which is in the midst of renovating a former middle school gymnasium into a community center and is in need of more funds.

He said that it would have cost the county well over $200,000 to demolish the old building, and having Windsor’s rescue it saved the county from having to make such an expense.

The county has contributed $100,000 to the town for the endeavor, with annual payments of $25,000, which ended this year.

Acree motioned to extend the payments another two years, for an additional $50,000. The motion passed unanimously.

Acree said he had not spoken to the town about extending the county’s contribution.

Grice suggested the Board direct county staff to begin drafting a facility use agreement with Windsor for the slated town center, such as the one it has agreed to with the town of Smithfield for the slated sports complex, in which the county be given a discounted rate to rent the facility as well as two yearly sporting events at no cost.  {/mprestriction}