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Mecklenburg Co. Won't Make Final $1 Million Payment To Whitewater Center

Michael Tomsic

Mecklenburg County will not make a final $1 million payment to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. County officials have decided the facility is making enough money that it no longer needs taxpayer help.

Since the Whitewater Center opened in 2006, Mecklenburg County, Gaston County, the city of Charlotte and three other cities have supported it with taxpayer money. Local officials thought of it as a good public-private partnership – a private group builds and runs a recreation facility for the whole region, and local governments support it with up to $12 million during its first seven years

That support would only kick in if the Whitewater Center couldn't cover its expenses and debt payments.

In an earlier interview with WFAE, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Garges said that's been the case up until now.

"The last six years of the agreement, we've paid the full $1 million," he said. "This would've been the last year of that seven-year agreement. And based on the financials that we've seen, they're really not in a loss position, so therefore we wouldn't have a payment this year."

In other words, the Whitewater Center is fine on its own. Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio released her recommended budget Thursday to make it official.

Charlotte and Mount Holly are still considering whether they will pay up. Belmont, Gastonia and Gaston County already paid but may ask for refunds.

Executives from the Whitewater Center refused to discuss this issue, saying it's still ongoing.