H-PASO ROBLES

Feb 15, 2012 2:52 AM by Ariel Wesler

Parents upset over recreation fees for youth sports

Some Paso Robles parents are fed up with the fees for youth sports programs in the city.

They say the recreation department used to provide money to youth sports teams but with budget cuts, more parents are now volunteering their time and putting in their own money to run the teams.

The city is now asking the youth sports leagues in town to pay for all the extra hours they use the sports fields. It's not sitting to well with parents who say their volunteering their time to save the city money.

The recreation department in Paso Robles says it's top priority is saving field space for youth leagues, but parents say the city isn't doing enough to cover costs.

"I feel like it's not too much to ask for the city to cover the cost of mowing and maintaining the field that they would have to mow and maintain even if we weren't on it," said Vickie Luna, who's son plays for the youth football league.

"We do need to collect at least some amount of rent to just barely begin to cover the expense involved with maintaining these fields," said Library and Recreation Services Director Julie Dahlen.

She says the city charges the leagues two dollars per hour to use the fields as long as they don't go over 3600 hours per year. So far, that hasn't worked out.

"Going back to 2009, they were already up to about 5,000 hours and they peaked in 2010 using 7,291 hours," Dahlen said.

And in these tough economic times, every dollar counts.

It's clear some of the fields could use a lot of work, but the recreation department says it doesn't have the money to do all that upkeep right now, partially due to budget cuts and it says the youth leagues in town aren't paying their fair share.

"They do need to become accustomed to paying for what they use," Dahlen said.

The city says it needs to give other groups a chance to use the fields as well, but some parents say the city should take a closer look at its books

"I feel like they need to reallocate their budget and move money," Luna said.

While money remains the key issue, both sides say they just want youth sports to shine.

The city says it would need to charge $22-$25 an hour to actually recover all of its maintenance costs for the sports fields.

City officials feel there is a lot of misinformation circulating about how it charges the youth sports leagues. It welcomes anyone with questions or concerns to contact the recreation department at 237-3991.

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