As the Williams Parks and Recreation Department begins its 2015 Adult Men’s Basketball League, Councilmember Charles Bergson requested that the City subsidize the costs of operating the league, lowering the cost for players.
At the January 21, 2015 City Council Meeting, Assistant City Manager Frank Kennedy presented to the Council the costs of running the Adult Men’s Basketball League and the fiscal impact of subsidizing the program.
“On December 4, 2014 the topic before the council was brought to the Parks and Recreations Commission and their recommendation was not to subsidize the adult program,” said Kennedy, “It was their consensus that if the City was going to spend general fund monies to subsidize a program it should be done for the children.”
The total cost, of operating the Adult Men’s Basketball League, would depend on how many teams signed up.
“If we have eight teams sign up, the cost per team is just under $700, or about $5,000 total” said Kennedy.
The team fee covers the cost of facility rental and the cost of referees; the cost does not include team uniforms.
Kennedy also commented that Councilmember Bergson requested that the City subsidize the cost of operating the league so the actual cost to each team would equal $400. The subsidy would be paid out of the General Fund for a total of $2,352 for the eight teams.
“It is estimated that about 70% of the league participants in the adult basketball league live outside of City limits,” said Kennedy.
City Administrator, Jim Saso question if the program charged more for out of area players versus city residents and Councilmember Bergson commented that historically they have charged two separate rates.
Kennedy said that they charge per team, and it is not separated from city residents versus noncity residents but would look into that option.
Mayor Troughton asked Sara Kaba, vice chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission to give their input on the matter.
“We’ve discussed this issue long and hard, and though we have no problem subsidizing for the kids – we need programs for our children,” said Kaba, “However for adult men to play basketball – these men have jobs, these men have families and why should the City have to pay for them to go and do something that they want to do. It is just not feasible for us.”
“We highly suggest to not subsidize the program,” Kaba added.
Mayor Troughton commented that ‘if’ the council approved the subsidy he would like to see rules put into place for improved player conduct.
Mayor Troughton then opened the floor for comments from the Council.
Councilmember Bergson said that Arbuckle has a Parks and Recreations Program that allows outside residents to participate, and so does the city of Colusa.
“The City of Colusa subsidizes several programs including youth basketball, coed softball, t-ball, and men and women’s softball programs,” said Councilmember Bergson.
Councilmember Bergson added that there are benefits to the parks and recreations program with health and fitness, and bringing additional tax dollars and activities to the city.
“I believe that the parks and recreations commission should service all of the city, not just the youth,” said Councilmember Bergson.
Assistant City Administrator, Frank Kennedy commented that the city just finished up its first wrestling program and is currently looking to take over the youth soccer and starting the youth basketball program.
“I believe that the parks and recreations commission was clear about only subsidizing youth programs,” said Kennedy, “The adult men’s basketball program does have the opportunity to obtain sponsorships to help reduce the costs.”
Mayor Troughton commented that the city does not have a parks and recreations assessment district and that the subsidies would come from general funds.
“I am hesitant to approve this because the city is going to be short of sales tax revenue in the upcoming budget year,” said Mayor Troughton.
Councilmember Boes commented that the city has come aware of the $330,000 deficit in the loss of sales tax revenue from the reduction in fuel prices impacting the collected sales tax for fuel purchases.
“Why do we have a parks and recreations commission if we are not going to support their decision,” said Councilmember Boes, “If we take their decision and turn it upside down then we should dissolve the whole thing and make the decisions ourselves.”
Councilmember Jauregui commented that if the city has enough money to subsidize the program then they should.
“This is something good and anything that has to do with sports, I am in favor of,” said Councilmember Jauregui, “It shouldn’t matter if it’s an adult program we should do something about this.”
Councilmember Sellers commented that all recreation programs should be for both adult and youth residents of Williams.
“I would like to see more city resident participation in the adult basketball program,” said Councilmember Sellers, “I also want to see the youth apart of the plan.”
Assistant City Administrator, Frank Kennedy commented that the youth have a basketball program.
Councilmember Sellers questions the term subsidize.
“I am baffled by the term, subsidize,” said Councilmember Sellers, “Will the players still [pay] for participating.”
Assistant City Administrator, Frank Kennedy commented that the participants will still pay a fee, but reduced with the subsidy.
Councilmember Boes commented that he would like to revisit the topic after the budget has been balanced to determine if funds would be available for parks and recreation subsidies.
“I would like to provide a subsidy for the parks and recreations program but first subsidizing youth programs before adult programs, and ultimately leaving that decision up to the parks and recreations commission,” said Boes.
Councilmember Sellers commented, “If it’s not going to pose a strain on the budget that is one thing, but if it does pose a strain on the budgeted then that is something we better be thinking about.”
After lengthy discussion regarding the subsidy and loss of budget funds, Councilmember Bergson appeared to have ignored all implications that the City of Williams is facing a $330,000 deficit for the upcoming budget year and claiming that with general funds of over $3-millon that the city had ample finances to fund a $2,000 subsidy.
Williams Resident, Angela Fulcher commented, “Mr. Jauregui stated flat out that if we have the money then we should support this, and just two seconds earlier Councilmember Boes stated we were $330,000 in the hole – how you can possibly come up with money when you’re in the negative?”
Fulcher also commented that the Adult Men’s Basketball Program was Councilmember Charles Bergson’s personal project.
“We all know that this is Councilmember Bergson’s baby,” said Fulcher, “he will say anything to get this passed.”
Bergson replied that he did start the program and not a participating player.
Fulcher also commented that kids should be the priority.
“Kids should be our priority, once you start paying for adults then the kids will begin getting the back seat,” said Fulcher, “these are grown adults and if they can’t come up with the little bit of money that takes to play basketball in the afternoons then they need to get a job!”
Bergson replied that he was just trying to get the City of Williams a working parks and recreations commission that is available to everyone.
Councilmember Boes made a motion after further lengthy discussion on reducing costs of the adult basketball program. The motion to the council was to not subsidize the adult basketball program and support the decision of the parks and recreations district.
Mayor Troughton second the motion and called for a vote. Councilmembers Bergson, Jauregui, and Sellers all abstained from a vote, and Councilmembers Troughton and Boes voted to not subsidize the program.
With the failed motion, Councilmember Bergson requested that they continue the discussion at a later date as they work on the upcoming budget.
Councilmember Boes requested that city staff look into the possibility of a park and recreations assessment district and receive the public’s decision on a ballot.
Councilmember Jauregui agreed and commented that the council should listen to what the public wants.
Williams Resident, Taylor Wright, questioned Jauregui on his vote.
“Why did you abstain from a vote after an hour long discussion? You heard what the public wants, and the public wants you to vote down the subsidy – but you abstained. Why didn’t you pass the motion to vote down the subsidy?
Mayor Troughton terminated the discussion and moved on to the following agenda item.