Homewood Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Dec. 6, 2012

PARKSThe park board met for approximately 90 minutes, mainly to hear and respond to a Homewood Soccer Club 2012 annual report, which reported a growth in the competitive “Blue” team participation but also $36,000 in uncollected fees due to a snafu with an online payment program. The board and parks director Berkley Squires questioned  soccer director David Putman at length about policies and practices that led to the deficit, which has been covered with a $10,000 personal loan from Putnam and another $10,000 borrowed on the soccer club credit card. Board business involved the impending construction of the new recreation center, beginning in January, and move to the former Jefferson County Satellite Office on Green Springs Highway. All votes were unanimous.

Present:  All board members, Chris Meeks, vice chairman, Tom Walker, secretary, Don Little, Paula Smalley, Keith Stansell, Tim Baggett, Tom Blake and Becky Morton.  Morton left after 30 minutes and was not present for any vote except approving the November 2012 minutes.  Chairman Chris Mason was present but left before adjournment. Also present, but leaving after the soccer club presentation was council liaison Rich Laws.

Absent:  Morton (see above).

Staff present: Board secretary, parks and recreation director Berkley Squires.

Audience attendance: 9, including several soccer club board members.

Presented and discussed, with a request for a financial update at the Jan. 3 Program Committee meeting: Soccer board president Jody Brandt presented the soccer club’s annual report:  The Homewood soccer program is divided into three skill levels, Red (recreational), White (transition to competitive play) and Blue (competitive, traveling), with fees ranging from $110 – $550 per season, depending on level. In the last season, 72% of the 934 players were residents, a drop from 90% in recent years due mainly to rules prohibiting more than six players on varsity teams to play for their hometown park programs. Brandt said the “six-person rule” has affected Homewood as it improves quality and draws talented players from outside the city.  However, the total numbers have plateaued over the last three years and the club doesn’t seek to expand further. 

The club operates a nearly half-million-dollar budget which finished in the red this year, for the second time in the last three years. Brandt said the main reason was an online system that allowed parents an installment plan option, but didn’t send reminders. The board didn’t bill for balances and is trying to collect $36,000 in unpaid fees by the end of December. This year the program also paid out $8,000 for police traffic control at games, at the park board’s request.

Squires and board members questioned Putnam at length about the number of scholarships allowed, the eligibility for scholarships, the salaries and need for paid coaching staff, the policy for waiving fees to board members and parent/coaches, the hiring of a part-time marketing assistant, and the terms of the loans. Putnam said the soccer program couldn’t compete statewide without paid coaches at the blue level. The board is looking at ways to correct this year’s billing problems and will improve fundraising next year.  Blake asked to see the club’s IRS statements (form 990). Mason asked for an update at the Jan. 3 meeting.

New business:

Squires reported that P/R will operate from the vacant Jefferson County Satellite Office beginning in January and during the reconstruction. Proposed hours for the temporary facility are M-Th 5:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Friday, 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 1-6 p.m.  Fees during construction have been reduced. Bids on demolition and “abatement” will be opened on Dec. 18.

Approved:  Chairman authorized to contract with B.L. Harbert as construction manager.

Approved:  $8,500 seed money to start a lacrosse program, recommended by the program committee.

Next meeting scheduled:  The next regular meeting has been moved to Thursday, Jan. 10, with location to be announced, likely at the Senior Center.

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