by Jonathan McNamara
YOUNGSVILLE — The baseball program at Luddy Park is a success for the town, but who will foot the bill was the $40,000 question at the Aug. 8 Town Board meeting.
The budget adopted for next year provides for an annual payment of $20,000 from the Luddy Park Recreation Program to the general fund to partially offset costs incurred by the town to administer the program.
A 40 percent across-the-board increase was expected as the source to make the reimbursement to the general fund.
Town Administrator Bill Tatum could as finance manager instate the fee increase and simply be done with the issue. However, Tatum believes the best way to resolve the issue is to have a public discussion where everyone can voice their opinions in a democratic way.
According to Parks and Recreation Director Andy McGhee there is a strong and widespread opposition to the increase, not only from parents, but from members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Town budget records report the last season of the baseball program had 413 participants, of whom only seven were residents of Youngsville.
The participants pay registration fees, which are “significantly less than surrounding communities,” said Commissioner Joe Johnson.
The fees cover the cost of uniforms, trophies, umpires, electricity and field supplies.
The total fees collected for baseball registration were $46, 467, according to town records.
Add team sponsor fees and sign fees $12,106, fundraising activities contributed $7,950, and the total available funds were $20,056.
However, the town spent $40,000 to administer the Parks and Recreation program and received no reimbursement.
Tatum proposes the program reimburse $20,000 to the town and taxpayers. This would be in installments over a set period of time.
“It would seem that if folks who don’t live here and don’t pay taxes here want free use of our facilities and want to take advantage of the learning opportunities that are in available in Youngsville, than paying for half of the administrative costs of the program should be acceptable,” said Tatum.
If opposition is stemming from raising fees then another option would be to use volunteer umpires and referees, and use the money saved to reimburse the town.
Commissioner Cat Redd was vocal in the meeting requesting the board to look at its recreation program and see the benefits, she urged the board to come up with a solid plan to make the program self-sustaining over a period of time, relieving the town of the burden.
After 25 minutes of debate the issue was tabled. The board plans to look at this in more detail in next month’s meeting.
Registration for fall ball is already being accepted, without am increase in fees.