CRESTVIEW — Creating a program through which area businesses can sponsor city sports teams may help players avoid a recreation fee increase.
Public Works Director Wayne Steele, whose department includes the Parks and Recreation division, has asked the City Council to raise the fees to adequately cover the program cost.
Steele has said the fees haven't been adjusted in 10 years. Last year 2,147 players participated in city baseball, men's softball, cheerleading, football, soccer and basketball teams.
Because Crestview's fees are lower than those in most neighboring communities, many players from outside the city prefer to play here.
However, the current fee structure — $60 for city residents and $65 for county residents — does not completely cover the cost of offering the sports, so taxpayers end up subsidizing the program.
Fee increase or sponsorships
Steele proposes raising the fees to $75 for residents and $95 for county players. "We have to find ways to sustain this program," he said during the Oct. 14 council meeting. "If not ... this will be one of the first things that will go away" in a lean budget year.
Council President Robyn Helt suggested soliciting business sponsorships, but Steele said it would be unfair if some teams had sponsors while others didn't. Noting Crestview still has one of the county's highest millage rates, Helt said, "now we're raising rates on kids. We've got to stop it at some point."
Councilman Shannon Hayes, who had earlier moved to accept Steele's request, sympathized, but said, "Crestview is a good place for sports, but it's not free."
After further discussion, Steele said if Hayes would withdraw his motion, he would work with recreation staff to draft a sponsorship program to present in February before baseball registration begins.
Hayes agreed, but said, “Until those things happen, to sustain a program for our youth, somebody has to foot the bill."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.