SCOTTVILLE ? The City of Scottville is taking a serious look at the future of its youth recreation baseball program. During its last meeting, the city?s Parks and Recreation Board decided that the city can no longer afford to operate the program at a loss.
?The board would like to see a group of parents step up and form an organization similar to the American Youth Soccer Organization that runs the fall and spring soccer leagues at MacPhail Field,? City Manager Amy Williams said.
For the past 10 years, the city has been operating the recreation program. Prior to that, the city and Mason County Central Schools ran the program jointly, with most of the administration and equipment costs going through the school.
?We just can no longer afford to take a loss on this program,? Williams said. ?Baseball is the only recreation program the city runs and last year we took an $11,000 loss on it, which does not even include administrative costs, which are around $5,000.? Williams said the Parks and Recreation board has been turn about this decision for the past three years. ?We have tried to keep it going each year for the kids,? she said, ?but we just can?t afford to keep taking the loss.?
The baseball program, which includes t-ball, involved 366 kids this year. Of those kids, Williams estimated that only about 10 percent were actual residents in the city of Scottville. Basically, the tax payers of the city of Scottville are offsetting the program for children who do not live in the city and whose parents do not pay property taxes in the city.
Williams said when the city first took over the program it received a lot more funding. The city itself also had more revenue and staff. It even had a full-time recreation director at one time.
?We used to get United Way funding of at least $6,000 per year,? she said. ?They changed the funding program and we no longer receive that money. Plus, in the past, Scottville area businesses would sponsor the teams. But, with the loss of businesses and the current economy, they cannot afford the sponsorships. Those sponsorships would cover the uniforms and even some equipment.?
Adult recreation softball leagues used to also help offset the costs, but those leagues no longer contribute. The city would also get revenue from the recreation wrestling program until the school took that program back over.
The participation fee is currently $30, which includes $5 for each player?s t-shirt. Williams said the $25 balance does not even come close to making the program solvent.
?AYSO charges $45 per participant or if there are two or more in the same family, they charge $40.?
Williams said Scottville provides all the equipment for the players, except the glove. ?We do get people who donate gloves to the program, so if there is a child who needs a glove we will provide it,? she said.
Comparatively, AYSO has all volunteers help and its officiators don?t get paid. The players have to purchase all their equipment, most of which is required such as pads, shoes and certain socks. ?They also do fund raising and the volunteers help with everything,? Williams said.
The city pays umpires $7.50 per hour with a two hour minimum. This year, umpires cost $1,520. Other expenses the city had, which were directly related to baseball were: $1,277 in equipment, $1,896 in field maintenance, $2,304 in t-shirts (t-shirts cost $6 each, though the city only charges $5), $600 field rental to Custer Recreation. The city also had other expenses as well (see related list).
?My staff can barely keep up with the day to day operations of running the city,? Williams said. ?I am doing the work of the city manager and treasurer and the other two office staff perform the duties of the clerk and administration of the police department and Department of Public Works.?
Baseball is the only local recreation sport overseen by the city. Football, wrestling and soccer are all private organizations.
Williams said she has not spoken with surrounding townships but is doubtful they would be willing to help offset the costs of the program.
The parks and recreation committee is willing to oversee the program for one more year as long as a group of parents step up and offer to work at transitioning the program to a private organization, Williams said.
She said the Parks and Recreation board meets the second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at city hall, but is not scheduled to meet again until February. She said if there is enough interest, the board would be willing to hold a January meeting to get advise on how to transition.
The parks and recreation board is a 7-member board made up of citizens from Scottville and the surrounding area. Currently there are two openings on the board. Williams said another way someone could provide feedback is to volunteer to serve on the board.
?Story and photo by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief
2012 Recreation Revenue:
Ball registrations: $11,415
Banner sponsors: $2,250
Harvest Festival tournament: $1,575
Field rentals: $175
Soda sales: $509
Total Revenue: $17,601
Salaries (umpires): $1,520
Salaries (field work): $9,141 (about half for rec baseball)
FICA/Unemployment, workman?s comp: $1,250
Equipment (rec ball): $1,277
Field maintenance: $1,896
Custer Maintenance: $600
Facility Repairs: $4,327
Equipment rental: $393
Facility supplies: $2,394
Total Expenses: $28,769
Net profit/loss: -$11,168
If administration fees were added, loss would be over $16,000.