PEMBROKE — Businesses located at COMtech may have to begin paying an administrative fee to help the industrial park continue the level of services park tenants are now receiving.
The administrative fee may have to be charged if the county Board of Commissioners does not maintain the current level of county funding for the park in its fiscal 2012-13 budget, according to Ken Windley, COMtech’s executive director. His request for $196,000 in county money was included in the county budget proposed by interim County Manager Ricky Harris, but at a budget work session late last month, $100,000 was cut at the request of Commissioner Raymond Cummings.
Windley, a former Robeson County manger and COMtech’s executive director since January 2011, said that he does not know why the commissioners are considering cutting COMtech’s budget by about 51 percent.
“This is not a situation we cannot overcome, but businesses will have to help pick up the cost of providing services,” Windley said. “We haven’t had to charge an administrative fee up to this point.
“I’m concerned that businesses will have to pay more in the type of economy that now exists,” Windley said. “But I also understand that because of difficult economic times the commissioners have to look at all of the options and make cuts to save the county money.”
COMtech’s request for $196,000 is the same amount of county money that the park has had to operate during the current fiscal year.
“Initially we gave them $132,000,” Harris said. “We then later gave them additional money that brought the total up to $196,000.”
According to Windley, COMtech’s board of directors discussed the possibility of charging an administrative fee for services about a year ago. That issue will have to be revisited by the board, Windley said.
COMtech, located just outside of Pembroke on N.C. 711, began operating in January 2001. The park, consisting of more than 700 acres, is designed to provide homes to technology-focused businesses, industry, educational training facilities and business incubators.
Tenants are offered numerous services, including 24-hour security, window washing, grass cutting, parking lot cleaning and trash pickup.
Windley said COMtech currently has 25 tenants. The new administrative fee for services, if implemented, would depend on the size of the business, he said.
“It (fee) would be about $1,000 for the smaller businesses, with larger businesses — such as RCC and UNCP — paying significantly more,” Windley said.
Cummings said Wednesday that he made the recommendation that the $100,000 be cut from COMtech’s budget as a possible way of “tightening up” the county’s budget.
“Economic times are still hard,” he said. “This is just a suggestion to balance the budget. We have to trim where we can trim.”
Cummings said his recommendation would at least “force” the interim county manager and COMtech staff to sit down and take a close look at the park’s finances and management.
“We’re trying to make sure it’s operating efficiently,” he said.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.