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Council increases fees for use of city facilities used by sports leagues

Beginning July 1, the participation fees Washington charges youths to use city facilities when playing most youth-league sports will increase.

During its budget work session Tuesday, the City Council, with a 5-0 vote, increased the fee for city residents from $15 to $20 per sport. The council increased the fee for non-city residents from $15 to $30 per sport. The new fees take effect July 1.

Last year, the council voted 3-2 to lower the fee from $30 to $15 per child per sport. Council members Larry Beeman, Richard Brooks and Virginia Finnerty voted to decrease the fee. Councilmen Doug Mercer and William Pitt voted against the motion.

Kristi Roberson, the city’s parks and recreation director, told the council she agrees with charging non-city residents a higher fee than what city residents pay. Roberson said she understands the sports leagues’ opposition to having two fees, one for city residents and the other for non-city residents.

Roberson said that reducing the fee last year resulted in a drop in revenue resulting in a shortfall.

Last year, 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. Those opposed to lowering the fee said it would decrease revenue needed to maintain and operate the city’s sports facilities.

The city has wrestled with the participation fees for several years.

The sports leagues charge their own fees that range from $30 to $50 (perhaps higher) per participant in addition to the city fee, which helps pay for preparing facilities for use, staffing facilities so bathrooms are opened and lights turned on and off and taking care of problems that arise.

“Go through those numbers again because I get a lot of calls about that,” said City Manager Bobby Roberson.

Kristi Roberson repeated those fee amounts.

“Whatever you add on, inside, outside, it’s going to be tacked on to the league’s fee. A lot of people don’t understand that. They think it’s 100 percent the city. I get calls about that — why are we (the city) are we charging such high fees,” the city manager said.

The city provides some scholarships that cover the costs for some children to participate in the leagues’ programs, Kristi Roberson said.

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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