Weatherford Democrat

April 24, 2014

Council votes to lower softball/baseball fees


Weatherford Democrat

By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford Little League parents will see a drop in the fees to play baseball and softball after city council members voted to lower the fees during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Council members asked for an executive session to discuss the legality of the issue. After about 15 minutes, they asked WLL finance committee member Jacob Holt to give an explanation of why the fee reduction is needed. Fees were recently raised to $30 for residents and $35 for non-residents, a $5 increase. With the unanimous vote, fees were lowered back to $25 and $30, respectively, which should save the league around $5,500. User fees were instituted after both the city and league looked at the user agreement back in 2012.

Holt told the council that a recent financial audit of the league conducted by Snow Garrett Williams showed the league would be more than $18,000 in the hole. The league has taken steps to cut internal costs, such as not providing uniform pants for players and adjusting umpire pay. Holt said other cuts have come from the city’s parks and recreation department taking over the mowing of the fields used by the league.

Interim Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Goodman said the mowing has been done for about three weeks now. WLL officials still do their own field marking, Goodman said.

Without doing something to stop the ongoing deficit, the league would be insolvent within two years, Holt said. Holt said the number of players has grown steadily over the last two years up to about 900 playing this spring.

Mayor Dennis Hooks asked if any other leagues received support from the city and was told mowing was done at Cartwright Park to help out youth football leagues with weedeating done to benefit the Weatherford Soccer Association.

Goodman said the city is working with both leagues to get contracts done for which each group is responsible for, as agreements right now are strictly verbal.

“I don’t want to see us doing more for one league than another,” Hooks said. “I have no problem with lowering fees because I want to see our leagues break even.”

League officials had asked for a $5 reduction this year and another $5 reduction next year. Council member Heidi Wilder said the second $5 reduction would be addressed next year if the league was found to need it.

Holt said the city would receive a monthly financial statement from the league in an attempt to “be good stewards of city property.”