Jul 17 2012

Athletic Facilities Preservation Fund Established But Not Complete

On Monday, July 16 the City Council considered the establishment of a new Athletic Facilities Preservation Fund.

Looking at the lack of reserves or ongoing funding for capital replacement of sports fields, Board of Education President Rick Raushenbush had previously prepared a document for the School Board suggesting the need for a designated source of funding for facility replacement costs estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The Athletic Fund proposal is the outcome of several months of discussion between the City and the School District regarding this issue.  The City and the School programs both utilize many sports facilities owned by one or the other, while not always sharing expenses.  Legal limitations on the School District’s ability to charge users for facility replacement, rather than operating costs, is another issue.

The proposal included a $25 annual fee from Piedmont Recreation Program users, but does not require School District users to make a contribution to the fund.  The School District maintains a separate reserve to pay for replacement of field turf, gymnasium flooring, and other structural items.  The allocation amount from the Athletic Facilities Preservation Fund to the School District was not specified. 

Residents Ray Catalano and Rick Schiller encouraged the imposition of the fee on all organized sport users noting the great cost of maintaining the facilities and the need to offset taxpayer demands.

Controversy arose over requiring private sports clubs to also pay a fee for facility use.   City Administrator Geoff Grote stated that sports clubs’ use of facilities should require a fee.  The City has had a long practice of not charging private sports clubs for the wear and tear on facilities.  The clubs are permitted the right to reserve and preempt casual and Recreation Department use of City facilities at no charge.

Council Member  Bob McBain defended the sports clubs free use, stating the City should be providing facilities for Piedmont youth.  Recreation Director Mark Delventhal pointed out that if the clubs were not providing the programs, it would become the responsibility of the City and be more expensive to run the programs.  Delventhal has previously been an officer on the Piedmont Baseball Foundation, a club sport providing select teams in Piedmont.

There was a discussion by the Council on including the sports clubs in the fee schedule.  McBain wanted to begin the $25 charge for the Recreation programs prior to resolving the fee issue with the sports clubs.  Council Member Jeff Weiler wanted to charge a fee on an hourly basis.  Council Member Garrett Keating wanted the fund dedicated to structural replacement costs exclusive of operational costs.

Since the Recreation Commission had not recommended a specific fee for all users, Vice Mayor Margaret Fujioka, asked the Council to refer the issue to the Commission for consideration and a recommendation.  She emphasized her investigation of other cities had shown private/club users were charged for facility use.

The need to “Get the bucks in the door,”  was agreed upon by Weiler and Mayor John Chiang, as they urged the implementation of the $25 fee for Recreation Department users.

The Council voted to impose a $25 fee per year on City of Piedmont Recreation Department program participants and await the Recreation Commission’s prompt recommendation on other types of users such as private sports clubs.

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