County OKs lease, lower rent payments for United Way

By JON HAWLEY

Staff Writer

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The Albemarle Area United Way will move into Pasquotank County’s Edgewood Center, following county commissioners’ agreement Monday to accept lower rent payments for the charitable group.

In a unanimous vote, commissioners agreed to accept the United Way’s offer for quarterly rent payments of $1,350, or annual rent of $5,400, for the next three years. That’s less than the $850 a month, $10,200 annually, commissioners requested last month for the United Way to move into the 1,700-square-foot space in the Edgewood Center on Parkview Drive.

On Monday, United Way Executive Director Randy Foreman and United Way board members said they couldn’t afford the county’s initial offer. They also said the vacant office space needed interior work, including carpeting and paint, and asked some rent be waived to pay for those start-up costs.

As he told Foreman last month, Commissioner Frankie Meads said the building needed to generate some income to offset the county’s maintenance expenses at the center. The building needs a lot of work, he said, adding it cost $15,000 to replace part of its roof last year.

United Way board member Teri Griffin responded that the higher the United Way’s rent payments are, the less it can invest in local youth and service groups. The United Way serves nine counties and supports groups in Pasquotank County, including Girls, Inc., Food Bank of the Albemarle, the Pasquotank 4-H program and the Greater Albemarle Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“We want this to be mutual, but I can’t stress enough we’re really good at sending money back into the community,” Griffin said.

Johnson Biggs, a United Way board member, added, “I understand you can’t give everything away, but the site’s sitting there empty as well.”

Some of the complex’s other tenants include the Pasquotank County Board of Elections, the Greater Albemarle Area Red Cross and Albemarle Smart Start Partnership.

Foreman also noted that the $800 the United Way paid in monthly rent at its last location, an office on U.S. Highway 17 South of Elizabeth City, included utilities. The United Way will have to pay for utilities itself at the Edgewood Center.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Dixon said he favored the lower rent payments for the United Way. He said the office space is vacant and, because of its long and narrow shape, not attractive to most renters.

“I’d rather have someone in the space,” Dixon said, making a motion to accept United Way’s three-year lease at $5,400 a year. His motion also waived the United Way’s first quarterly payment in lieu of the nonprofit installing new carpeting and making other interior improvements.

Meads seemed to agree to the lease reluctantly. Finance Committee Chairman Joe Winslow in fact had to ask him several times if he had voted in favor of Dixon’s motion. Meads’ non-vote was counted as a yes vote in the unanimous tally.

Meads voted for the lease agreement during commissioners’ regular meeting Monday night, but not before quipping: “They took advantage of us, didn’t they?”