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Yorktown Schools, Clubs Far Apart On User Fees

Yorktown Council member Nick Bianco asks school board members to reconsider imposing a usage fee schedule on local athletic clubs. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
Tom Cole, Yorktown's assistant superintendent for business, said the district needs to find new sources of revenue or be forced to to cut more staff. Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The Yorktown Central School District’s budget will likely top $90 million again in 2013-14, but it’s one $48,935 line item that has many parents up in arms.

The district is looking to impose an hourly fee upon local non-profit organizations and athletic clubs every time its gymnasiums, cafeterias, classrooms or fields are used. Club leaders say the fees would drive up membership costs and force parents to pay more per child.

A roomful of concerned parents and volunteers filled the Mildred E. Strang Middle School cafeteria Monday night in protest of the fees.

“Virtually everyone we speak with feel they already are paying for use of the school facilities in their town and school taxes,” said Al French, speaking on behalf of the Yorktown Youth Soccer Club.

Tom Cole, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said the fees are necessary for maintenance and general upkeep, especially when it comes to weekend use.

In 2011-12, he said the groups requested to the use the facilities a combined 4,825 hours.

“The proposal does not cover our costs,” said Cole, who estimated it costs $90,000 to $105,000 to maintain the facilities during those hours. “It covers a small portion of that. We’re not asking for the world.”

Superintendent Ralph Napolitano said the fees are a small sacrifice to avoid cutting more staff, which he said is “not doable.”

The proposed hourly rates are $10 weekday/$20 weekend for gymnasium or cafeteria use, $5 weekday/$10 weekend for classroom use, $5 for for soccer and lacrosse fields, $5 for Brookskide baseball fields, $10 for high school baseball and softball fields, $25 for the high school turf field and $45 for the high school turf field with lights.

Based on 2012 figures, the Yorktown Athletic Club would owe $29,380, the Yorktown Youth Soccer Club would owe $13,135, the Mohansic Girls Basketball would owe $6,120, and Oxygen Volleyball would owe $300.

Resident Ed Ciffone urged the school board to find the $48,000 elsewhere, and recommended using more of the of the district’s $3.6 million surplus. Cole said using surplus would be a short-term fix, because the $3.6 million balance will be empty in four years.

“We’re at a point where the rubber meets the road,” Cole said, blaming reduced state aid and rising employee benefits. “I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just giving you the facts.”

The board voted unanimously, 5-0, to include the $48,000 line of revenue into the 2013-14 tentative budget. The fees are not set in stone can always be removed are tweaked at a later date, according to school board President Jackie Carbone.

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