Park Board, Dec. 5, 2013

PARKSThe Homewood Soccer Club presented an annual report that was much improved over last year, when the club’s director revealed he had authorized $20,000 in personal loans to cover a substantial deficit, and other financial practices the board found objectionable. Those loans have been paid, the board reorganized with far fewer members, and its financial outlook improved — with considerable help from the park budget. See below.

This meeting was also the last for three long-time members, two leaving after hitting term limits—Tim Baggett after 10 years and Don Little after 14—and the resignation of chairman Chris Mason, who is moving to Hoover, after serving five years on the board.

Members present:  Tom Walker, Don Little, Paula Smalley, Keith Stansell,

The $9 million Homewood Soccer Park on Lakeshore Drive showed the city was serious about soccer. The park board this month thanked the Soccer Club for taking substantial steps to improving the club's financial future.

The $9 million Homewood Soccer Park on Lakeshore Drive showed the city was serious about soccer. The Soccer Club is just now emerging from past years of financial excess.

arriving late, Tim Baggett, Tom Blake, arriving very late, and chairman Chris Mason.

Members absent:  Vice chairman Chris Meeks and Becky Morton. Also absent was council liaison Richard Laws.

Staff present:  Berkley Squires, Director of Public Services, Rusty Holley, Parks and Recreation Superintendent, Jakob Stephens, athletic director, and Dianne Rice, board secretary.

Audience attendance:  1

Soccer Club Report

Soccer Club treasurer Mike Kile and chairman Dave Condon made the report.  For Fall Season’s seven-month reporting period, the club collected $240,624 [collections figure corrected] and paid expenses of $234,364 for a net $6,261. This, added to $19,999 carried over from the spring season, totaled $26,260 in the black entering Spring 2014. In general, the board praised the turnaround from a year ago, saying the new financial policies were working. Other questions remained:

Leaner and Meaner? Salaries and coaching fees challenged

Park board members didn’t overlook the fact that nearly half the expenses this period reflected salaries ($114,845) paid to coaches and approximately 10 staffers. The only 12-month positions are the soccer director, his assistant, and the office manager, which were paid $7,000, $14,000, and $9,100 respectively for the 7-month period. In answering  questions about high staff costs, Mr. Kile said replacing the director would automatically drop “two or three” other positions, to which Mr. Baggett added, “or four or five.”

The board, especially Mr. Baggett and Ms. Smalley, called for more work to pare down the number of hired hands in favor of using volunteer coaches. Mr. Kile said the club pays all coaching positions for teams of 8-year-olds and older. Total coaching fees for “Blue” competitive teams were listed at $51,573, while the “Red” recreational coaches were paid a total of $10,035.

However, Mr. Condon pointed out that the club instituted a new cost-saving policy that offers coaches either a coaching fee or a fee waiver for their children who play. In the past, the club has paid for both. Therefore, fee waivers totaled only $7,765 this season compared to $10,000-$12,000 last year, he said.

Financial aid/non-resident policies questioned

Several board members and Mr. Squires pressed the club officials about offering waivers to non-resident players. Mr. Condon defended the practice of financial aid in general, saying the club needed the players and that 99 percent had demonstrable need, being on free-lunch status. Of the $19,855 cost of free registrations, $14,000 went to 36 players in the competitive program. Mr. Kile said about a third of the 889 total players this fall were non-residents, a sore point with Mr. Baggett, who said the percentage had increased over last year. However, the number of non-residents receiving financial aid wasn’t specified.

Field use fee waivers to continue, for now

Last spring, the park board waived field use fees of ~$8,000 to help the club regain its financial footing and pay off debt. The club’s fall report, however, showed only $2,000 budgeted toward an estimated $12,000 due in field fees this season, prompting questions from several board members. Dr. Stansell asked why more couldn’t be paid from the $26,260 carry-over balance and Mr. Kile said there were $5,000 in expenses left to be paid from that surplus. He said he’d feel more comfortable paying an additional $4,000, for a total of $6,000.

How will the club address field use fees in the future? Mr. Condon suggested soccer be charged the same (lower) fees charged to other sports, but Mr. Squires said soccer used the fields twice as much as other sports, which is reflected in the use fee. The question of paying this season’s fees will be taken up in the next Programs Committee meeting, Jan. 6, 2014.

Approved the following Rec Center rates: In voting to finalize rates set in the November’s work session, the board also approved two changes:  It set a 10% annual (1 % per month for 10 months) interest rate for Total Access memberships financed over 12 months, or $17.50, and $2.50 interest for each $25 additional member fee. For “senior households” in which only one member is over 55, the first member pays the $60 senior discount rate, and additional members pay at the regular additional member rate of $25.

Approved facility rental rates:  Rates set at the November work session were approved unchanged, to begin Feb. 1, 2014.

Approved camp rates:  Rates set at the November work session were approved. Tuition for the 8-week Day Camp is $350, or $100 more than last year, and the start time is at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.

There being no further business, Mr. Squires stopped the adjournment in order to present plaques for the long volunteer service of Mr. Baggett and Dr. Little, who both are leaving Dec. 31 due to term limits. Mr. Mason also announced his resignation. All out-going members were given mayoral proclamations, read aloud by Mr. Squires. The mayor was scheduled to attend but wasn’t able to make it.

The meeting was adjourned.

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