Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 27, 2013

GT Co. to reexamine field fees

By MICHELLE MERLIN mmerlin@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Confusion over the American Legion baseball fees prompted the Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Commission to reexamine its baseball field fee structure.

Commissioners unintentionally increased American Legion baseball fees by nearly 47 percent, then held a special meeting on Nov. 13 to reverse the charge and drop the increase to 5 percent.

The mix-up caused commissioners to vote to create a tiered system for baseball field fees that’s more in line with other usage fees. Different types of groups — such as nonprofits, out-of-county groups, and for-profit groups — are to be charged different amounts.

Members also moved to link the rates the American Legion and the YMCA pay for the fields for the 2014 year.

“It’s a case of fairness,” said parks commission president Christine Maxbauer.

Most commissioners thought it unfair that in the last year the American Legion was charged an average of $22.65 per game, while the YMCA paid $33.50 for the first game played on a field and $27 for subsequent games.

“When I finished our special meeting, I felt an obligation to discuss the YMCA because they are a frequent flyer, if you will,” said commission member Alisa Kroupa.

Commissioners are working to pull together field costs and calculate how to reduce YMCA’s fees to a comparable level for the next year. They’re also gathering information about how to structure a new tier system.

The YMCA and American Legion comprise the vast majority of field users, and the YMCA puts about 1,500 people on the field from May to October, said Barb Beckett, the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA Athletic Program director.

“We have not been unhappy with the fees we’ve been charged,” said Beckett. “I feel that they’ve done a good job on the fields, they’ve done a tremendous job for us. We just want it to be fair and equitable.”

The last year’s American Legion baseball fees were charged based on maintenance hours logged according to Richard Edmonds, a member of the American Legion Junior Baseball Board of Directors. The group did request alterations to typical field maintenance to bring down costs.

Commissioners will work out the details of new YMCA fees and a tier system in the coming months. They decided to give the American Legion a blanket 5 percent increase from last year’s total fees because baseball signups are already underway.