The company operating Head Start in Graham claimed at the April 24 Graham City Council meeting that new landlords of the property on Fourth Street are raising their rent three-fold.
But property owner Randy Cantin says that assessment is deceiving.
Rolling Plains Management Corporation, RPMC, a non-profit company that manages assistance programs across 25 counties in west Texas, and local property owners, are currently negotiating a new lease for the land where the company has its Graham facilities housed, said RPMC Director Debra Thomas.
“This was really a shock to us being there for so long,” said RPMC transportation director Lezlie Carroll at the April 24 meeting. “The land just sold out from underneath us. We paid a small amount each year and it has tripled what they want now.”
Cantin said that RPMC already made an offer to the previous landlord to raise the rent they paid by 100 percent, and that he and his business partner had asked for approximately 35 percent more than that, but eventually agreed to come down to closer to 20 percent above the initial offer.
“I think they are trying to get a better deal by making me look like the bad guy,” said Cantin. “I feel like I was taken advantage of by saying we went up three fold and they had already made the previous land owner on offer to go up on the rent.”
The current lease expires in early July, by which time they will need to have signed a new agreement or vacate the property.
“We just received a letter in April that our lease was terminating,” said RPMC Head Start Director Mary Jo Tole at the meeting. “We really kind of don’t know what we are going to do.”
The letter was received on April 7, and it gave 90 days for an agreement to be made, said Thomas.
RPMC operates the Head Start program out of their Graham campus, which uses government funding to educate 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income homes, and quarters the majority of a fleet of buses used as a rural public transportation service offered to the public, but is mostly utilized by the elderly, disabled and sick, according to Thomas.
The transportation service covers all of Young County with the facility in Graham housing most of the buses.
The facility in question is at 1805 Fourth Street, near the Graham Municipal Airport.
Read the entire story in Saturday's Graham Leader.