LAURINBURG — While the Laurinburg City Council may not be in the recreation business, many council members are willing to back Scotland County Parks and Recreation and it’s new multi-generational center efforts.
Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Graham spoke to council members during the monthly meeting Tuesday to give a look at the design of the potential facility.
Talks of a recreation center have occurred multiple times over the years at the city council. Council member Curtis Leak has said numerous times that the city “is not in the recreation business,” much to the dismay of council member Mary Evans, who had brought the topic up at the council’s retreat in January.
“People come to city council meetings to talk about recreation, even though we don’t do recreation,” said Council member Andrew Williamson. “But we can certainly contribute to the process and, as I recall, we have all made it clear that we all support this concept and that we would get behind it.”
On the November ballot, there will be a question about allowing the county to raise the sales tax, which is a tax paid on almost everything bought, that would raise the rates a quarter-of-a-penny. Legally the county cannot put what the rate is for, but Graham assured the council that it would go straight to Parks and Recreation and would help fund the operating costs of the center. The sales tax increase would take the rate from 6.75 percent to 7 percent even and will not be an increase in property tax.
“The sales tax referendum has to pass for this to be a possibility,” Graham said. “With the plan that we have in place we feel like we’re right on the edge of this being a reality and we feel like we have a solid plan in place.”
Evans questioned Graham about the user fees that would be associated with the building, Graham compared going to the center to going to a movie, likely charging around $6 though none of that is set in stone yet.
“It’s not like a YMCA that you have to pay a monthly membership just to walk through the door,” Graham said. “There are fees associated with the different programs … . That’s why it’s essential that we have these annual operating dollars through the sales tax referendum that can be set aside to erase those fees so we can operate without charging citizens in the community and the county optimal premium membership fees.
“I publicly ask everyone here to support what we’re doing because I think as leaders in the community obviously we’re in this game for the same reasons,” Graham said. “It’s not for a child, it’s not for a senior, it’s not for a family, it’s for everyone in the county. This is a set in the right direction, this is a step to unite the community, obviously, we have pockets of frustration here there and everywhere else so why not make a step in the right direction by putting this center here in Scotland County?”
In other business …
— The council approved an agenda item that requested losing a portion of Roper Street four times during October for the Parks and Recreation Haunted House.
— It was requested that City Manager Charles Nichols work alongside the police chief to figure out a way to deal with panhandling that could include educating the businesses on what they can do as well.
— Leak asked for the city manager to speak to the Scotland County Schools Superintendent Ron Hargrave about tearing down two abandoned buildings at I. Ellis Johnson, as they are a safety hazard.
— Evans asked if the city could look into purchasing North Laurinburg since it’s been closed by the school to use as a recreation center.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]