Yorktown Sports Clubs Upset Over Proposed Usage Fee

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Yorktown Central School District could charge local athletic clubs an hourly fee to use its fields. Photo Credit: File
Yorktown Assistant Superintendent Tom Cole said the fees are only being imposed to comply with a state law. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser / File

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Several local volunteers are upset over a proposed fee that would charge non-profit organizations and athletic clubs each time Yorktown Central School District facilities are used.

Under the school district’s proposal, groups like Yorktown Youth Soccer Club, Yorktown Athletic Club, Mohansic Girls Basketball Club, Yorktown Parks and Recreation, Oxygen Volleyball Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and SPARC Programs would have to pay an hourly $10 fee for using school district's facilities.

According to a presentation given by YCSD Assistant Superintendent Tom Cole, those organizations combined to log 5,423 hours of classroom, cafeteria, gym, grass field and turf field usage in 2011-12. The groups also used 27.5 hours of turf field lighting and 791 hours of overtime for district custodial staff.

YYSC President Rick Romanski, YAC President Rich Campanaro and YYSC Board Member Al French were among the volunteers who complained about the fees Tuesday night to the Yorktown Town Board. Campanaro said higher fees could result in a deceased membership, and would force remaining members to pay a larger share of the usage fees.

Currently, the organizations only have to re-imburse the district for the custodial overtime, which Cole said was $53,000 in 2011-12. The new plan would incorporate custodial expenses into the usage fees, and “the clubs will no longer need to be surprised about overtime fees,” a district statement said.

Cole presented the plan (attached below) at an Oct. 22, 2012 board of education meeting and said the reason for the fees is simply to comply with a New York State law.

According to NYS Constitutional Law, Article VIII, Section 1, Gift and Loan Clause, whenever admission fees are charged at a facility or where sales are part of the event, the organizations must donate a “reasonable” amount of the proceeds back to the school.

Superintendent Ralph Napolitano stressed the district did not seek out a way to recoup extra fees, but was informed by attorneys that it was not in compliance with the law.

The district-released statement also said the user fees will be deposited into a newly created Athletic Fund, and will not use the fees "for capital improvements nor will it make any profit or gain from the money."

"The Athletic Fund would serve as a place to keep the monies collected every year until representatives from the school district, the Town of Yorktown and the clubs could meet to jointly decide where best to use the funds for that year."

Attached: (building_use_boe_presentation_10-22-12.pdf)

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Comments (9)

al.french.507:

The administration in their Power Point 10/22/12 incorrectly uses as justification for fees a claim that they must pay off an additional four years of the construction cost of the Murphy field since they didn't know how long the turf would last when it was built in 2000. The problem with this statement is that the Murphy field was never part of the bond that went to the voters. The bond that voters approved was for improvements to various grass fields. The switch to a synthetic field was made after the fact. Everyone always said the field would last about 10 years which it did.

al.french.507:

"The law requires that whenever admissions fees are charged by the facility user or where sales are part of the event, a "reasonable" amount of the proceeds must be paid over for the general educational or charitable purpose". Our clubs do not charge an "admission fee" to any of our games be they league or tournament. The laws says "educational OR charitable purpose". Since our clubs are 501c(3) Public Charitable Organizations and we use all proceeds to further enhance player training, etc. we already comply with the law. The attorney for the school district confirmed this fact in her response given to the clubs on 12/6/12. Here are some of the corrections to the 10/22/12 Power Point presentation given by the administration:
The following are 4 corrections to both the power point presentation and the administration’s oral presentation, as well as corrections to inaccurate comments following the presentation, in discussion with the Board of Ed Trustees. (This is the link to view the 10/22/12 BOE Meeting video - http://www.yorktown.org/ click on the “Now Showing” button in the center of the Home Page. The presentation starts approximately at the 1 hr. 4 minute mark.)

1. COMMUNITY USAGE BY FACILITY TYPE. The presentation states the YYSC uses Grass Fields 1,765 hrs. In fact our usage is 555 hrs. or less per year (a 69% error).

Additionally, only approximately 27% of our players use school district fields.

2. Oral presentation: Why community groups are such heavy users of school district facilities?

The presentation incorrectly states that the YCSD has more fields and gyms than the town. True they have more gyms but false for the fields. The school district has about 14 acres of fields (on 13 Fields) while the Town (and others) supplies 23 acres of fields (on 20 Fields) for community group’s use. (Not counting fields in the Lakeland District.)

3. CURRENT CHARGES FOR FACILITY USE: $53,000 Reimbursement for Custodial OT.

The presentation left the impression $53K is the only amount the school district has received from community groups. What’s omitted from the presentation is a page that details all the gifts and donations from community groups and the many significant Town of Yorktown contributions. These gifts, donations and contributions amount to 100’s of thousands of dollars. This fact would be a more fair and balanced presentation to the trustees and general public.

4. Oral presentation: Community Groups vs. Outside Users.

During the presentation and discussion the two descriptions are used as if they are the same. THEY ARE NOT.

Community Groups is the correct description for Yorktown organizations that use school and town facilities. We are the groups whose members initially funded the building of school facilities, pay Yorktown taxes, vote for school district budgets and bond proposals and elect the board of education trustees.

Outside Users refers to non-Yorktown groups who can do none of the above.

We ask that the administration correct the record with both the school board and public at large. We feel it is not fair to the trustees and community to leave such an incorrect and one-sided impression.

al.french.507:

User Fees in Yorktown Rejected:
The Yorktown School District fails to acknowledge that the Town of Yorktown and the clubs already donate back to the district more than enough compensation to offset the usage of facilities by our community groups.
We asked the school district to tell us how much they would give back to the taxpayers if the youth clubs no longer use the fields? They could not provide an answer.
Why? Because, there are no unfunded additional costs to the school district associated with club use of the fields. The real additional costs will come if the Town and clubs stop donating their support.
This is a cash grab by the school district for fees they have been trying to implement for 10 years. The reasons have changed but not their determination. This is a cleverly orchestrated but cynical and misleading attempt to justify fees that virtually everyone feels they already pay for in town and school taxes!
Al French, VP
Yorktown Youth Soccer Club

Boilermaker:

How about also charging for parking at all School District Sports Events.
The School Board will generate enough money in a fund for new Astro Turf
replacemrnts. And avoid another long term taxpayer bond.

CtlndMnr:

1) The Gift and Loan clause is referencing -- admission fees and/or sales. Not clear from this article where or if the youth groups are charging admission or making sales;
2) For the Yorktown School District to discourage all the volunteer groups is counterproductive. ---- If all the youth groups shut down, and all the kids in the programs suddenly have some 5000 hours of unstructured free time on their hands , how does the YSD think that the time will be better spent. ?????
3) Weren't these parents and volunteers the same taxpayers who approved and are paying all the school taxes and bond issues that built the school facilities ??????????

bmarschhauser:

Taken from Tom Cole's Oct. 22 presentation: "All of the groups that use our facilities charge their participants a fee, if there events that take place – large scale events – whether they be tournaments or other kinds of events, typically there are entrance fees and there are sales of certain things that go on there. The school district is required to charge reasonable fees for those types of events and for those types of uses...

We must charge for special events where there is an entrance fee into that event and where sales take place. So that if an event takes place on any one of our campuses, and there are sales of any kind, a portion of the sales must be returned to the school district as a charitable contribution. And a portion of the entrance fee needs to be returned to the school district as a charitable contribution."

CtlndMnr:

1) Assigning a portion of receipts (reasonable charges) from a revenue generating event (eg a tournament) back to the school district seems reasonable, and does not appear to place any undue burden on the youth organization.
2) The other apparent option, would be No Fee events, if the organizations feel that apportioning a portion of receipts to YSD would disrupt their business model.
3) From these excerpts, --- it appears that youth groups that use the facilities but do not charge entrance fees or sell items are not affected. Thus, this would not apply to practice time , or games where no revenue is generated.

MisterBill2:

They may not charge admission fees but are there fees involved in participating in the league? If the school districts have expenses involved that can be recovered, then that is a good thing. Let the people whose kids are doing sports pay for the expenses. Many of us without kids in the district (and it seems strange to write that after so many years of having kids in the local schools) should not be subsidizing the local sports teams.

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