Field tax for sports remains
The player tax for the Community Athletic Coordinating Council will remain $7 this season, it was decided Tuesday.
A longtime problem of too many athletes and not enough ball fields led to the additional player fee which began at $2 in 1992. The fee helps pay for field improvements and maintenance.
The city of South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Unified School District officials say the CACC and its player fees are necessary because the two agencies are unable to pay for the entire cost of maintenance.
“Without these extra funds from the CACC, it would make it real difficult to maintain the fields,” said Steve Weiss, park and recreation superintendent and the city’s CACC representative.
The CACC, which collects the fees from each player for each sport, approved keeping the fee at $7. The fee passed with an overwhelming majority, but it was not unanimous.
During the meeting to approve fees, some were hoping for a fee reduction because the CACC has $48,000 in its bank account.
“We were hoping for a lesser fee until funds get used and then raise the fees,” said Dave Olivo, the CACC boardmember who represents the American Youth Soccer Organization.
Last year the CACC spent $8,300 on maintenance. Last year all the leagues, which include soccer, football, softball and others, including adult athletic leagues, had 2,364 participants. This means $3.50 per player went to maintenance fees last year. The rest of the money was either spent on projects or put in the bank.
“I feel that there is a need for the CACC,” said Jerry Weldy, president of Little League. “I do have concerns that there is no master plan for the money. I think the fees could be more in line with the actual usage of the money.”
Bruce Brown, the council representative for Little League, was concerned because there are unfinished projects on the list from last year and the council is also adding new projects.
“Am I going to tell you (Steve Morales, maintenance and facilities director for the school district) and I are going to get all these projects done?” Weiss said. “No, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Weiss also said that he is hoping to use additional funds to put artificial turf on one of the fields proposed by Measure S, which would eliminate the need for maintenance.
“We’ve been saving so we can do bigger and better things, so we need a lot of funds,” Weiss said.
This year the coordinating council estimates to collect $17,200 in fees.
Between 1992 and 2000 the CACC has collected $207,201 to help pay for maintenance. Of those funds $145,127 have been spent on the two “Field of Dreams” at the South Tahoe High School, a project Weiss said is what prompted the fees. But, after nine years only one of those fields is operational because of drainage problems. The second Field of Dreams, however, is expected to be ready by Aug. 6, Weiss said.
This year El Dorado County has donated $35,000 to the CACC specifically to be used for the Field of Dreams. This is above the $48,000 the CACC has in its bank account.
The school district and the city have a Mutual Use and Maintenance agreement, which holds both entities responsible for the maintenance of the fields, all of which are on district property. Last year the city spent $35,000 on field maintenance and the district spent $84,000, according to Weiss.
The agreement also states that donations are acceptable.
“I see no problem accepting money from a nonprofit group wanting to help maintain those fields,” said City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo, who is also on the Little League board.
“I have never professed to say that if you don’t pay, you can’t use the fields,” Weiss said.
But members of the council agreed Tuesday night that each organization needs to pay the fees to be a member of the coordinating council, which decides who uses fields and when the fields are used.
The CACC is an independent organization that has the power, according to its bylaws, to coordinate use of the fields and recommend improvements. It does not specify that it has the power to collect money.
However, the bylaws state, “The purpose of the Community Athletic Coordinating Council shall be to improve and enhance athletic activities and facilities within the South Lake Tahoe Basin,” a clause Weiss said gives the CACC the power to collect fees.
The CACC has one representative from the city (Weiss) and one from the school district (Morales), who sit on the CACC board.
“I don’t believe there was an official action to put together the (CACC),” Morales said. “Representatives from the city, school and youth groups said we need to put together a group to maximize field use and improve the quality of the fields.”
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