Huntersville commissioners stopped plans to search for a new management company for the town fitness center last week when they realized the current contract did not give them enough time.
Commissioners originally voted 3-2 on Feb. 7 to have staff write requirements for the management company at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics. An open bidding process would have followed.
The contract for Health & Sport Works, the Davidson-based company that has managed the fitness center for 10 years, expires June 30.
To give the town enough time for the search process, Huntersville staff asked HSW to extend their contract for one year.
But HSW declined, citing the contract that gives them a right to a five-year extension.
"We would have been asking for something that was outside of the contract," said Commissioner Ron Julian.
Since the contract also stipulated the town give HSW a 120-day notice before the contract's expiration, town commissioners held a special meeting March 2 to decide whether to extend the contract, said town manager Greg Ferguson.
Commissioners voted 4-1 at the special meeting to extend HSW's contract for five years, with Commissioner Danae Caulfield opposing to the motion.
"I believe we owed it to the taxpayers to try and negotiate a better contract...especially in light of the current economic conditions," said Caulfield.
Last week, town commissioners officially rescinded the original motion asking staff for a list of requirements.
The 8,000-member fitness center includes three pools, a full-court gymnasium, a fitness center and a group exercise studio. It's paid for in part by the hotel, motel and prepared food tax.
While the tax isn't imposed by the town, some commissioners have said they want to remain vigilant of where their constituent's money is going.
Thus, some advocated for sending the contract out to bid once HSW's contract expired.
While Julian applauded HSW for its fine job of managing the fitness center, he added that a formal bid process would have been prudent.
"Everything should be done in the daylight," said Julian. "We need to make sure we're using our taxpayers' money wisely."
Still, Julian said if the town's intent was to put the contract out to bid, it should have started that process a year ago to allow for a seamless transition.
Dee Jetton, executive director of Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics, could not be reached for comment.