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Board approves contract related to Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Cumberland commissioners also move forward with project manager for multipurpose event center

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The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-3 to accept the latest allocation for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and approve a budget amendment that increases the administrative fee for the agency overseeing the program.

The county is expected to receive nearly $1.8 million from the U.S. Treasury for the remainder of its second allocation for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The county has contracted with Innovative Emergency Management to administer these funds.

Under an amended contract, Innovative Emergency Management will be paid a fee not to exceed 25% for its services related to administering the latest round of funding. It previously had been paid 8% to administer the program.

Board Chairman Glenn Adams and commissioners Larry Lancaster, Jeannette Council and Toni Stewart voted in favor; commissioners Charles Evans, Jimmy Keefe and Michael Boose voted against.

Keefe expressed concerns about the change in the fee, and Evans said he wanted to make sure the money was administered in a timely manner.

“My concern is, time is important. I want to say again how urgent it is that we get this funding, whenever we get it, into the hands of individuals that need it,” Evans said. 

Keefe said he believes the emergency rental program is good but the change in the administrative fee may not be in the best interest of the community.

Keefe referred to the first contract, which had an 8% administrative fee, as the reason he would not support the request.

Twenty-five percent of the latest allocation “which is $450,000, going to administration of this program is not in the best interest or good stewardship of this money because that $450,000 could possibly help a lot of people with their rent,” Keefe said.

The board also voted 6-1 to move forward with MBP Carolinas Inc. as the owner’s representative/project manager for the multipurpose event center.

Boose cast the dissenting vote after raising questions about the proposed contract with the firm. 

The contract is being reviewed by the county, Jermaine Walker, the director of engineering and infrastructure, said.

“My only concern is everybody getting caught up in this,’’ Boose said. “I haven’t done a performing arts center before.’’

The owner’s representative/project manager will guide construction of an 89,000-square-foot-center with a recommended seated capacity of 2,075 for events such as concerts, comedy shows, Broadway performances and other events.

The center is expected to cost $75 million to $80 million. The county would like it to open in fall 2025. The county is looking at the multipurpose event center to replace the aging Crown Theater and Crown Arena.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a contract to replace the roof on the Department of Social Services building and on the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse. The contract was awarded to  Owens Roofing Inc., which had a low bid of $1.7 million. 

Keyona Smith covers Cumberland County government for CityView TODAY. She can be reached at ksmith@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Cumberland County, Board of Commissioners, Emergency Rental Assistance Program, multipurpose event center

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