Hamlet to commissioners: ‘We want our fair share’

Sales tax referendum has municipalities, county divided

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Previous coverage:
* Sept. 25: Carolina Journal: Use of taxpayer dollars for recreation is ‘bad public policy’
* Sept. 19 – Chamber endorses sales tax referendum
* Sept. 16 – Local, state agencies aiding pro-sales tax group
* Sept. 15 – Campaign signs support sales tax hike
* July 7 – Voters to weigh in on sales tax referendum
* Oct. 6 – Questions answered regarding sales tax referendum

HAMLET — Hamlet city officials won’t let their desires go unnoticed if voters approve the proposed countywide sales tax increase.

On the Nov. 4 ballot, voters will either approve the quarter-cent sales tax that will help fund a new sports complex on Old Aberdeen Road in Rockingham or not. Even if it does pass, however, local leaders are gearing up to make their requests known to the Board of Richmond County Commissioners. The commissioners in their July 7 meeting approved a resolution that put the sales tax issue on the November ballot.

Supporters of the proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase say the revenue and sports complex project will have a positive impact on economic development.

Supporters of the proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase say the revenue and sports complex project will have a positive impact on economic development.

The facility would include four baseball/softball fields, three youth baseball/softball fields, four more adult baseball/softball fields, an 18-hole disk golf course, a tennis facility, a soccer complex comprised of five playing fields and an activity center, complete with a miniature train, a splash park, a carousel, a playground and a dog park, among other amenities.

The project has received endorsements from theRichmond County Chamber of Commerce, the Richmond County Board of Realtors and the Rockingham Downtown Corporation, among other groups.

Keith Parsons, of the Committee to Promote Growth and Economic Development, said earlier this month that it makes sense that it the planned sports complex, funded largely through a countywide quarter-cent sales tax increase, would be a city-owned facility; after all, it’s within city limits and, well, somebody’s got to own, operate and maintain the facility. In addition, approximately 60 percent of youth who participate in Rockingham’s Parks and Recreation Department programs live outside the city limits.

That’s all well and good, Hamlet leaders said Tuesday, but they want their piece of the pie.

Jerry Lamont, assistant director for Hamlet’s parks and recreation department, said he watched a replay of the commissioners’ October meeting in which Commissioner Ben Moss and others noted that other municipalities in the county could request some of the money, if the referendum is passed, for local economic development projects.

To date, no other plan has been received, but Mayor Bill Bayless said “we’ve got plans already for a new gym.”

“We need to get our fair share if that bond passes,” Lamont said.

Bayless told Lamont that city officials are “well aware” of the county’s position on what would be a Rockingham-owned facility.

Filed in: Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors, Rockingham, Sports

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