Usage fees approved

Published 8:39 am Tuesday, January 26, 2010

JACKSON — New revenue prospects are coming for the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center.

Last week, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a $10 monthly fee for registered users, ages 16-64, that use the center.

Additionally, in a separate motion, the board agreed to allow naming rights and sponsorship opportunities for the center’s Recreational Sports Complex.

Northampton County Recreational Director James Roberts brought both proposals to the board.

Roberts recommended a monthly fee of $10 for members, ages 16-64. He estimated the fee could generate $5,000-$10,000 for the center.

Averaging 55-65 members per day and operating two years without any fee, Roberts said the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center stands to benefit from the revenue to assist with extra staffing, monthly operational costs, equipment maintenance and, eventually, equipment replacement.

“Maintenance is a major issue with the equipment being used everyday and the equipment will need to be replaced in a couple of years,” he said. “With us offering more and more activities each month, staffing is becoming a big issue and with some of this revenue we would be able to hire at least two part-time staff members.”

Senior citizens (ages 65 and up) along with county employees will be able to use the center for free. The latter was a target audience by a five-year Fit Community Grant the county received to purchase equipment. Roberts said three years are remaining on that grant.

Roberts said there are benefits for those who pay for the membership for a full year.

He said that a new card system will be initiated next month where members will have a photo ID card, which they will swipe when using the center.

“This was done for two reasons: one, to keep up with data for the center and, two, to make sure they are registered,” he said.

Roberts added there have been issues with unregistered members not signing up to utilize the exercise equipment. He said there could be a possible liability issue for the county if a non-member gets injured.

The commissioners motioned to approve the $10 fee.

The board also heard about naming and sponsorship opportunities for businesses and citizens.

“This is a great opportunity for county citizens and area businesses to be a part of the Recreational Sports Complex,” said Roberts. “Businesses can advertise around the fence of the ball fields annually. Citizens or businesses can name a field, walking track, tennis courts and even the playground area.”

Roberts said payment plans will be available by contracts. A 10-year contract will be drawn up for the naming rights with a cost of $10,000 while sponsorship and advertisement will have a charge of $250 annually.

In addition to the naming rights and sponsorship programs, businesses and citizens also have an option of purchasing a brick for $125, which will bear the name of the donor and be placed in the complex concourse. A park bench can also be purchased for the complex at $750 or a tree for naming at $250.

“Funds raised through this program will be used for additional programs and improvements not ordinarily funded through the normal recreation budget,” said Roberts.

A Recreation Naming Rights Committee (consisting of Commissioner Virginia Spruill, Wayne Jenkins, Dot Vick, Floyd Grant, Pudden Gorlesky and Roberts) has already been formed to consider naming and sponsorship candidates. The Board of Commissioners will have the final vote on those candidates. Spruill motioned to approve the naming rights and sponsorship opportunities for the Recreational Sport Complex. Commission Vice Chair James Hester offered a second. The motion passed without objection.

Roberts noted beginning in February, the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center will be open on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.