Fees waived: Mayor breaks tie by voting for motion

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, June 25, 2015

Washington Mayor Mac Hodges’ affirmative vote broke a 2-2 on a motion to waive city fees related to upcoming state baseball and softball tournaments at the city-owned McConnell Sports Complex.

Council members Larry Beeman, who made the motion, and Richard Brooks, who seconded the motion, voted to waive the fees, estimated at $5,000. Council members Doug Mercer and William Pitt voted against waiving the fees.

After Beeman made his motion, Mercer asked, “Councilman Beeman, who’s going to pay the expenses for the work that has to be done during those tournaments?”

“They will have to come out of the respective departments’ budgets,” Beeman said.

“We have never waived fees, that I’m aware of. I have known members of this council to sit right here and say, ‘We do not want to raise fees. We will make a donation to cover those expenses.’ Everyone of us has pulled money out of our pockets to avoid waiving fees,” Mercer said. “To run a tournament that’s going to run four or five days … there’s going to be a substantial amount of money that’s going to be required to maintain those fields during that tournament. I cannot see that the city should shoulder all that expense.”

Beeman replied: “I think with the amount of revenue generated off the taxes that these tournaments will bring in, with the amount of people that are coming in, staying in motels, eating in the city, the gas that they buy, any purchases they make while they’re here, that will certainly more than cover any expenses.”

Beeman and Mayor Mac Hodges said city fees for such tournaments have been waived in the past. Hodges said he believes former Mayor Archie Jennings waived such fees about two years ago. Hodges said he did not feel comfortable waiving the fees, deciding to let the council decide the matter.

Mercer said waiving the fees would set a bad precedent. He fears others will ask to have fees waived for similar events. Mercer also noted the tournament organizers charge fees for people to attend their events.

Chip Edwards, representing the local Cal Ripken baseball league, said it would cost tournament organizers about $4,600 in fees associated with providing city personnel to staff the event, field rental and lighting costs. He also said fees charged for people to watch the games help pay for umpires who officiate the games and tournament organizers.

Edwards said 45 teams are expected to play in the Cal Ripken league tournament at the end of July, including 25 teams that will drive at least 90 minutes to play in Washington.

“It should be of good benefit for the city,” Edwards said.

Mercer replied: “Well, I appreciate those numbers, but those numbers don’t reflect the total costs. … You’re going to have to maintain the fields. You indicate $1,600. I don’t think you can do the fieldwork for $1,600. If you’re going to have 45 teams, that means at least 45 games. You’re talking two different tournaments here. You’re asking the city to contribute $20,000 or $30,000 to these two tournaments. You all, the leagues I am assuming, went out and solicited these tournaments knowing there was a substantial expense associated with those tournaments, and now, at the last minute, you’re coming at the last minute and asking the City Council to waive all these fees. I just can’t agree with it.”

Kristi Roberson, the city’s parks and recreation supervisor, told the council the city, in recent years, has not charged fees for any district, regional or state tournaments organized by leagues based in Washington. A new fee schedule taking effect July 1 call for charging fees for such tournaments, she noted.

Beeman contended those fees should be not charged when the tournaments are an extension of the leagues’ current regular seasons, when such fees are not charged.





About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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