Sacred Heart 8-man football talks practice

The first of two field rental fee structures is now in place with a Sedalia Park Board vote Thursday evening.

The board entered the fee structure into the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department rulebook during its meeting at Convention Hall.

Director Amy Epple said the department has been charging fees for public field rentals, but the board had never approved them as official parks policy.

“We’ve had (a structure) that was set up, but it was never adopted by the board,” Epple said. “I need to have something that my staff can have something to fall upon on and say, ‘Hey, these are our policies. This is what we’re doing.’”

Field rental fees will increase by $5 under the new structure, as the previously enforced fees hadn’t been updated in more than 10 years, Epple said.

The department will charge $15 an hour to rent a park field and $25 to turn on lights. Field marking will cost $50 per field for the department to draw lines for specific sports.

Renting one marked field for an entire day or for a tournament would cost $125. The parks office would also require a non-refundable deposit of $25 per field.

These fees would affect any member of the public who wishes to rent a field or a sports league that doesn’t already have a partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department.

The board will vote on a separate fee structure in January for youth sports organizations that have entered into a partnership contract with Sedalia parks. This fee structure would affect three organizations: the Sedalia Girls Softball League, Paul Klover Soccer Association and the Sedalia Youth Football League.

The parks department hasn’t charged these organizations any fees to rent fields, but that could change come January.

Epple has recommended these groups pay 15 percent of regular field rental costs for two years. The board will decide in its next monthly meeting whether to approve her recommendation or to choose another fee percentage.

If the 15 percent fee passes, the board could raise it to a higher percentage in the future. Epple said she wouldn’t like to see fees for these groups rise above 50 percent of regular rental costs, even several years in the future.

“We want to help, but it needs to be more of a partnership,” she said. “Yes, we want to provide (these sports), and we want to help you be successful at it and not charge you exactly what it takes (to maintain the fields). We’ll work with you on that, but I can’t give you everything.”

For example, had the department enforced full fees for the girls softball league in the 2018 season, the league would have had to pay a total of $26,190 for field rentals, field marking, tournament fees and lights.

Fifteen percent of that total would amount to an annual fee of $3,928. The fee structure, with board approval, would require the league to pay half of that amount before the next softball season begins and the second half after the season ends.

These youth organizations operate independently from the parks office, but they offer non-exclusive opportunities for children to play sports that the department doesn’t provide.

To qualify as a youth sports partner, these groups must fit specific criteria, such as submitting their financial statements to the department and having a 501c designation.

“We have a good relationship with all these organizations,” Epple said. “But, if you want nicer fields, you’ve got to start paying a little bit more for us to put money into those facilities.”

During its meeting, the board also approved a staff chart to establish a official chain of command in the department. Board members are expecting to review budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2019-20 in its January meeting.

Mayor John Kehde and City Administrator Kelvin Shaw attended the meeting Thursday evening. Kehde commended the department for improvements to parks in deteriorating neighborhoods, particularly Vermont Park and Housel Park, which have seen recent or ongoing upgrades.

“It’s changing the attitude of the people that live there,” Kehde said. “The neighborhood parks are really going to be beneficial in regenerating those neighborhoods.”

The board adjourned to a closed session for legal reasons. Board members Les Wolpers, Kristy Woolery and Kevin Thomas were absent.

City Reporter

Nuria Martinez-Keel is the city reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering local government and various city departments. She can be reached at 660-530-0146.

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