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IC sporting groups willing to help officials offset revenue funds

BY GRACE PATERAS | DECEMBER 11, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City youth sporting group affiliates voiced concerns at an Iowa City Parks and Recreation commission meeting on Wednesday.

Because of the property tax legislation passed in 2013, the Parks and Recreation Department is providing affiliate groups additional time to prepare for the possibility of being charged rental fees for sporting fields.

Groups affected include the Iowa City Kickers Soccer Club, Iowa City Girls Softball, Iowa City Boys Baseball, and Iowa City Eels swim club, among others.

“We’re willing to come up with ways we can help the city generate revenue,” said Allan Guymon, the Kickers’ treasurer. “Eventually, if rubber hits the road, we might have to raise fees.”

The Iowa City City Council instructed the Parks and Recreation Department to come up with a plan to offset property tax loss. The commission invited affected groups to the monthly meetings in October, November, and this month to discuss concerns.

Officials will continue discussions with affected groups.

“We do not make policy, we make suggestions to the council,” said Clay Claussen, the head of the commission. “We can make recommendations, but the City Council has to implement the final policy.”

The commission is meeting with these affiliate groups now to start the discussion early and let them know this is coming, Claussen said.

One plan is to charge these affiliate groups to use the fields, which will go toward maintenance and repairs.

“I think it’s important to clarify that the broader discussion is really about cost recovery,” said Chad Dyson, superintendent of recreation.

Operational expenses for parks maintenance of ball diamonds are $194,246, and $120,542 for the soccer complex.

“Based on some of our operating costs, groups are looking at pretty much, maybe 10 percent of those fees,” Dyson said. “We’re still pretty much in the preliminary discussion stage, so anything and everything is on the table”

In February or March, before the next fiscal year, the commission will vote on what the collective recommendation to the City Council will be.

Policy changes won’t go into effect until 2016.

Steve Schuette, an IC Girls Softball board member, said the group is looking to collaborate with the department to raise funds and avoid field rental fees.

“We don’t know what the charges are yet,” Schuette said. “Once we find out what they’re planning to do, we might have to increase some of our charges to participants.”

If implemented, the board suggests volunteer groups and parents create collective fundraising groups to raise money and further offset costs.

Recently, Kickers Soccer Club had already made changes to help the city gain revenue. Instead of reserving the soccer field on Saturdays and Sundays, the group scheduled time to be held all on one day. This opened up time slots for other groups to rent the fields, and ultimately raising revenue for the city.

“We’ll look at ways to collaborate [with the city],” Guymon said. “We don’t want to decrease the ability of our players to play soccer, and we’ll do everything we can so it has the lowest impact on our players as possible.”

Aleks Vujicic contributed to this story.


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