Park district postpones vote on fee hike

The Vashon Park District has delayed voting on a measure to raise user fees for youth sports groups so that the clubs can meet with the agency and discuss their concerns about the proposal, according to district officials.

The five-member board announced the proposal in March with an eye toward passing the measure at one of its meetings in April. But park district Executive Director Jan Milligan said the board decided to revisit the issue at its May 8 meeting after hearing that some clubs felt the higher fees would place an undue burden on families.

Milligan said she’s seeking more financial information from the clubs as well as a history of the fees they’ve paid over the years. “The commissioners are just wanting me to gather more information so that they can reevaluate this whole thing,” she said.

The park district sets fees for the use of both park and school facilities under an interlocal agreement that places the park district in charge of maintaining fields and collecting fees for extracurricular use of school facilities. Under the proposal, spearheaded by Commissioner David Hackett, teams that use fields and gyms would pay $15 per player per season — money that would go into special accounts to cover “extraordinary maintenance” or “extraordinary operational expenses” at the facility  their team plays at.

But some leagues have expressed concern about the new fees, noting that they’re already charging their players so as to cover the costs associated with their use of Vashon’s public facilities. Vashon Island Junior Basketball (VIJB), for instance, recently purchased a new scoreboard for the school gym where the club plays, said Pat Call, a member of the VIJB board.

“The program has managed itself OK this way, and we’ve been able to keep the fees pretty constant,” Call said.

Foss Miller, who heads VIJB, agreed, adding that a $15 hike in fees would amount to a 30 percent increase for his club’s members and prove prohibitive for some of them. Like Call, he said he doesn’t know why additional funds are needed.

“What would the money be used for? We’re not getting a good, straight answer,” he said.


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