CRESTVIEW — The Crestview Heat youth basketball team will not receive the city's financial assistance to host a March tournament that could draw 800 overnight visitors to town.
City leaders have regretfully denied the request, citing fiscal responsibility and fairness in applying a policy to deny facility use fee waivers.
The local Amateur Athletic Unionteam hopes to host the tournament at Twin Hills Park's gym, which would cost $1,250 to rent.
"Our biggest expense is those referees," Heat representative Shevon Scott said. "We put out about $2,000 last year. Last year we lost so much money on referees."
When the council took no action on the Heat's request early in Monday's meeting, Council President Robyn Helt raised the issue again during the council reports period.
"As a council member, it pains me greatly when I see my neighbors and friends have to go to other cities to hold an event that could be held in our city," she said.
Helt passed the gavel to council vice president Mickey Rytman to make a motion that, rather than waive fees, the city cosponsor the event. She cited precedent with the Old Spanish Trail Fishing Rodeo, also held in Twin Hills Park, and other events that benefit the community.
The city's exclusive contract with the park concessions operator would bring extra revenue from 800 visitors buying food during the basketball tournament, Helt said.
But her motion failed without a second.
Rytman said granting fee waivers to one group when other equally worthy groups seek the same relief sets poor precedent.
"Our hearts are going out to you; you don't know how bad," Rytman said to Heat representatives. "As a city, it's hard for us to decide how to put one (group) before another."
"This has gotten real emotional and it feels good," Councilman Tom Gordon said. "But it's not my money. It's taxpayer money."
"As a citizen, I'll help you with something, but as a representative, I can't see breaking precedent by waiving the fees," Councilman Shannon Hayes said.