Weatherford Democrat

December 13, 2012

City, little league hope to play ball

Concerns pitched over revenues to pay for new lights


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

bsmith@weatherforddemocrat.com

A user agreement between the Weatherford Little League and the city was sent back to Parks and Recreation board members for further review during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

The board had met on Nov. 29 to ratify the changed agreement, which included an increase in user fees. The user fee increase was approved by a 3-2 vote.

The council was scheduled to review the agreement, which went into effect in January 2012, but council member Heidi Wilder said she felt the board didn’t have adequate time to review the agreement and was trying to get things done “in the 11th hour.”

“I’m uncomfortable with this because the (association) was supposed to submit all its financial information by Jan. 1 and that hasn’t been done yet,” Wilder said. “I also think we need to change the date the contract becomes valid so we’re not doing this all last minute.”

Parks and Recreation director Danielle Felts said the league had submitted some information prior to the deadline but it wasn’t as complete as had been liked. A certified public accountant was working on updating and providing additional information, Felts said.

As part of the agreement, the league agreed to pay user fees to the city, which were based on resident and non-residents of the city. Those fees brought in about $29,330. The city installed lights on seven fields at Soldier

Spring Park at a cost of about $100,000 as part of the agreement.

Felts said the city was expecting about 300 more players to register based on previous numbers. Under the updated agreement, fees would be increased $5 per player which was expected to bring in $36,585 if the same number of players came back.

User fees would be used to pay for the lights, Wilder said, but once the debt service for the lights was paid, the fees would go towards the fields.

Council member Jeff Robinson said he did not want to get into an adversarial relationship with the league.

“There have been some hurt feelings but we need to remember we’re trying to provide children with the opportunity to play baseball,” Robinson said.

Robinson said because of some of the feelings, parents have gone to other little leagues or had their kids play select baseball.

“We just want to make sure we’re not pricing ourselves out,” Robinson said. “If it’s a question of $10,000 or $5,000 (on paying the lights), we can always get the money next year.”

Trash bags OK’d

In other news, the council approved spending $102,000 to Houston Poly Bag Ltd. for the purchase of garbage bags for residents to use.

Residents are paying for two rolls of bags each year as part of their trash pickup service. City regulations require all trash to be placed in bags for pickup.

Robinson asked if the bags were really needed and if the monies being used could go to something else.

“There are a number of people in the city that do not use the bags,” Robinson said. “Instead of passing them out to all the residents, we could possibly sell them at a better price than they could find at the store and use the $102,000 for something else.”

City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said the bags were provided as a convenience to customers. He said the program has been positive and the bags are of a higher quality than what is found in the stores.

Steve Bates, director of municipal utility services, said the requirement with bags started as the city was having a litter problem with cans being blown and trash found all over.

“The residents seem to like them,” Bates said.

Council voted 4-1, with Robinson casting the dissenting vote, to approve the bid.