City Council reduces league sports fee

Published 5:31 pm Friday, July 14, 2017

With a 3-2 vote, Washington’s City Council lowered the participation fee it charges youths to use city facilities when playing most youth-league sports.

The fee was lowered from $30 to $15 per child per sport. Councilman Larry Beeman made the motion to lower the fee, which was supported by council members Richard Brooks and Virginia Finnerty. Councilmen Doug Mercer and William Pitt voted against the motion.

Those voting for the lower fee said it would encourage more children to participate in the youth sports leagues and make it more affordable for a child to play several sports or for families with several children to allow their children to play sports. Beeman, noting the council had discussed possibly decreasing the fee in the past, made it clear he wanted to lower the fee.

Mayor Mac Hodges asked Kristi Roberson, the city’s parks and recreation director, what effect a previous decision to increase the fee to $30 had on participation in the youth sports leagues. “I know that the $30 fee did have a reduction in the number of kids who signed up for certain sports … but I don’t have the numbers in front of me,” she said.

Brooks said the city should “do what it can within reason” to make it affordable as possible for children to play sports.

Mercer said he concurs with the concept of all child being able to participate in every activity the city offers. “We have to recognize each of these activities costs the city. The league programs cost us about a half a million dollars a year even with the $30 fee. If we were to drop that, that number is probably going to go up to $600,000 a year,” Mercer said.

Beeman disputed the $600,000 figure.

Finnerty asked for Roberson’s opinion on the fee.

“Professional opinion: I don’t think kids need to play for free. I think there’s no ownership in the program itself. I do get a lot of complaints about the $30 fee in regard to how much … not for like one child. One child is not an issue, but if a family does have multiple children,” Roberson said. “I think the fee is something that does allow ownership.”

The revised sports recreational agreement provides for criminal background checks on all sports league officers, board members, parents, grandparents and legal guardians before they assume duties with the leagues.


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.

email author More by Mike