ROANOKE RAPIDS — The contract was signed at the Randy Parton Theatre more than a week ago, but the debate is not over.
City council members shared their concerns Thursday night about the new contract between the city of Roanoke Rapids and Randy Parton.
The move slashed Parton's salary, guarantees appearances and took him out of the theater's daily operations. Two council members said the new deal is a mistake.
“I don’t agree with paying him almost $2 million to walk away,” said City Council member Jon Baker.
Baker and fellow council member Carl Ferebee voted against the contract, which the council approved by a 3-to-2 margin. Ferebee said he thinks the city rushed to get a new deal.
“I did, and I know some of the other councilmen wanted to look at a little more detail on this new contract,” Ferebee said.
“I would like to have seen all the options explored with as much enthusiasm as the one option we were presented with,” Baker said.
Baker says the city will end up eating a little less than $2 million on the deal. Ferebee said he is especially concerned that Parton is guaranteed more than $1 million, even if the theater closes.
Both council members said they’re concerned with the wording of the new contract where it specified Parton must perform up to 36 performances a year. While there is a maximum listed, there's no minimum number of performances.
Mayor Drewery Beale previously said the new contract is the best option for the city in the long run.
“What’s really important is to look at what we’ve got here and what this could end up being,” he said.
Both Baker and Ferebee said they agree the theater can still be successful. They just wish the negotiations proved more successful for the city.
They're concerned there are too many restrictions that would keep the city from selling the theater if it finds a buyer in the next five years. Baker renewed his call for the city to release more financial figures from the theater prior to the new contract.