Happening now: Councilmembers fielding sports-fee-hike complaints

January 29, 2011 at 10:15 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 12 Comments

We are at Corner Café on First Hill along with about 40 people who came for a coffee conversation with City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Sally Clark – many of them from youth-sports groups furious about the major fee increase they have to pay because of the new city budget. Among them, West Seattle Little League president Mark Terao, who sounded the alarm citywide recently and was unhappy to hear Councilmember Bagshaw tell him flat-out, there’s nothing they can do about the fee increases this year – they’re in the 2011 budget to stay, but they can certainly talk about next year’s budget, although they couldn’t guarantee cuts next year – only that there won’t be another increase for 2012. She also said that leagues having trouble paying the fees should contact her. Seattle Lutheran High School and West Seattle Soccer Club are other West Seattle concerns that have been mentioned. And youth-sports reps from all over the city have pointed out, as has WSLL, that they put major amounts of their own money and volunteer time into field prep, upkeep and improvements, which should be taken into consideration, instead of charging them the same increases as other types of organizations. Bagshaw acknowledged, and apologized, that the teams did not get clear advance notice of how things were going to change: “This did not go well, that you didn’t know.”

We’ll add video later; this isn’t the only topic of the councilmembers’ meeting, which was announced as open to all – they’ve also heard concerns about human-services cuts and the Department of Neighborhoods changes/cuts – Bagshaw described the latter as “just nuts,” but also said, it’s nuts to cut other services too, and notes “nobody wants anything cut,” so, “when things get better, we’re going back.” And what they heard included a message from one attendee: “We want to be part of the process.” (Also among the attendees from West Seattle, City Council candidate Michael Taylor-Judd.) More later.

ADDED: Video of Seattle Lutheran High School athletic director Bob Dowding explaining their concerns to the councilmembers:

12 Comments

  1. Simple fact, when we cut taxes we have to increase fees! It sucks, but it is true… Don’t believe the folks who say we can cut taxes and keep roads, sports leagues, parks, police etc. at current funding levels…

    I wonder how many people at this meeting who voted to keep our taxes down… I wonder how many voted for Bush who gave us all $600 bucks while he gave the right tons of tax cuts.

    Comment by alki guy — 10:21 am January 29, 2011 #

  2. Tracy, thanks so much for covering this meeting. I hope that the admitted MISTAKES will be corrected in the future!

    Comment by Cami — 10:52 am January 29, 2011 #

  3. Thanks for the coverage Tracy. It’s too bad this was done without any input, and they were not willing to make any changes. Makes for great conversation.

    Alki guy – don’t make this political. The sports leagues in this city are not against fee increases…we expect it. But closer to 10%-20%, not 300%-400% increase, if you include the new light fee as well. When the city is paying millions on new bike lanes, while jacking up the rates AND reducing services to our kids, we know where the priorities are. What about the fight against childhood obesity?

    As volunteers in these leagues, we are trying to create a great experience for our kids, and not make it exclusive to just those that can pay. But these huge increases make that very difficult.

    Comment by Tim McMonigle — 11:21 am January 29, 2011 #

  4. The worst part is that the kids are the ones who suffer. Sports should be avail. to all kids and money shouldn’t stop the fun. Everyone talks about kids not getting outside anymore, sounds like they can’t afford to now….what a shame. Can we donate to clubs to help out?? More fundraisers?? The West Seattle garage sale would be a good way to make some money for these groups…I for one would be happy to donate items for this cause.

    Comment by RJB — 11:27 am January 29, 2011 #

  5. You’re right on, alki guy!

    Comment by anw — 11:43 am January 29, 2011 #

  6. NO way to avoid making this political! This was a political decision, after all. All these services are paid for thought taxation of one kind or another – whether levy, or property taxes or real estate excise taxes.

    Comment by visitor — 1:16 pm January 29, 2011 #

  7. I hope some of the folks who talked about increases in sports fees stuck around to comment on decreases in social services. Seriously, I’m one of those old fashioned people who definitely can’t afford to pay more taxes, but would to keep a higher level of services. Are you?

    Comment by charlabob — 1:26 pm January 29, 2011 #

  8. My point is that there really is no such thing as lower taxes… I want social services. I want kids soccer to be affordable. I want roads that are safe and clean… And on and on… I do not like paying any taxes, but I do because I want these things.
    I get crazy when people believe we can cut taxes and not see “crazy” increases in fees and decreases in services. It doesn’t work that way.

    Comment by alki guy — 2:23 pm January 29, 2011 #

  9. Alki Boy, it is a tax increase in case you missed it. Council members in 2008 put a 146 mil. yes Million, parks levy . ie capital improvement, on the Ballot.. You voted and passed it. now they don’t have the money for the upkeep on the projects. What do they do, increase fees 200 % for youth sports. remember much of the work on the fields is actually done by volunteers. They talk in terms of rev I.E. taxes but don’t look at the broken wheel of city government and the waste. ( 3 million spent on bike lanes that are rarely used.).

    Comment by M — 2:42 pm January 29, 2011 #

  10. the 2008 levy funds only capital projects; the almost $200 million 2000 levy funded primarily capital projects and the $72 million 1999 community center levy likewise. Meanwhile, there were no increases ANYWHERE to cover increased O and M.

    That is definitely a POLITICAL problem. The people say YES, the politicians say NO.

    Comment by visitor — 4:21 pm January 29, 2011 #

  11. This is classic mismanagement of the city assets by the City Council. The Council has been regularly raising the fees that adults pay to use the fields, without raising it for children. Now that its ‘the kids’ turn, people are getting up in arms. The adults were seen as cash cows for the last five + years and now that they are tapped out, the Council is going after the next group.

    Ask yourself:

    1. The building out of the fields is paid for by bond, so its only the maintenance that needs to be funded. With more and more fields going to lower cost turf, why aren’t the maintenance costs going down?

    2. If organizations like WS Little League uses volunteers for field prep, why are the fees going up? Costs should be decreasing.

    3. Why are non-profits paying the same as FOR PROFIT organizations to use the fields?

    3. Can

    Comment by katrina — 6:09 pm January 29, 2011 #

  12. Time to put up a gate on Lincoln Park and pay-for-park, just like Marymoor. Its the users tax system. Why should the joggers, picnicers, wading pool, and dog walkers get a free ride? -gg-

    Comment by geroge — 9:31 pm January 29, 2011 #

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