05/29/07 — Goldsboro council eyes Paramount theater ownership

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Goldsboro council eyes Paramount theater ownership

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 29, 2007 1:46 PM

Officials at City Hall are pleased to see operating costs for the Paramount Theater in the 2007-08 fiscal year budget, but members of the Goldsboro City Council said it is still unclear how the facility will be managed.

City Manager Joe Huffman said he included seven months of salaries for theater employees and money to pay for water and electricity in the budget, but that the city will not gain ownership of the building from local businessman and Paramount reconstruction benefactor David Weil until the middle of next summer.

Councilman Chuck Allen called the news a surprise.

"We don't really have a plan for how things at the Paramount are going to go -- how much we're going to charge," he said. "We don't have a plan, and we've only got seven or eight months to figure out how we're going to do it."

Huffman said the plan is to open the theater in January but that Weil will not sell the theater to the city until the summer months -- to give him an opportunity to continue fundraising efforts even after the first show is held.

Councilman Bob Waller said that leaves too many questions unanswered.

"Is he going to hire people or are we going to hire them?" he asked. "Is he going to decide what we charge or are we?"

Allen said the decision makes little sense to him. After all, someone has to take out a loan for the $5 million it is going to take to rebuild the theater.

"Somebody owes that money," he said. "It seems to me that whatever (Weil) is borrowing at isn't as low as we could be borrowing at. At some point, we're going to have to pay $6 million, or whatever it is. It seems to me that the sooner we take it, the cheaper our interest is going to be."

Huffman said he would pursue answers to the questions raised by the council and that he has addressed some of them already.

Allen said if good communication had happened in the first place, there would not have been an issue.

"I think we need to figure out where we are with this thing," Allen said.

Mayor Al King agreed.

"We need to get clarification," he said.