Starting July 1, the Yorktown Central School District will charge community organizations a little more to cover for its expenses – such as custodial overtime, heating and lighting – incurred during the time clubs use the district's facilities and fields.
The usage fees would charge non-profit organizations and governmental agencies for the use of the school district's facilities and fields. School officials have said the fees they currently charge don't cover the entire cost of facilities use.
Under the school district's proposal, the groups that would have to pay additional fees are the Yorktown Youth Soccer Club, Yorktown Athletic Club, Mohansic Girls Basketball Club, Yorktown Parks and Recreation, Oxygen Volleyball Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and SPARC Programs.
Several volunteers for those groups met with Yorktown town board members last week to ask for the town's support in lobbying for them not to have the school district impose any more fees.
Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace, who is also a lawyer, said the school district is "100 percent right" and legal in its action.
Yorktown Youth Soccer Club President Rick Romanski said he felt the higher usage fees would put a burden on parents – some of whom already have more than one child playing multiple sports. He feared club memberships could decrease and the fees for the remaining members, who would have to foot the bill, would increase even more.
"You should be going to the school board," Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco told the volunteers who complained to the town board last week. "You are preaching to the choir."
During an Oct. 22, 2012 meeting on fees and usage, Yorktown Central School District Assistant Superintendent Tom Cole said the district "under its facilities use policy and legal authority, welcomes applications for facility use to share with the community the resources that our taxpayers support for the community good, at times when these resources are not needed by the school district."
When facility use requires the building to be open past building operating hours, a charge for custodial coverage fee is assessed, according to a school district presentation.
According to the district's presentation, local organizations had used a combined 5,423 hours of classroom, cafeteria, gym, grass field and turf field use in 2011-2012. Also recorded were 27.5 hours of turf field lighting and 791 hours of overtime for district custodians.
Local sports clubs and organizations currently only reimburse the school district for custodial overtime, according to district officials. That cost in 2011-2012 was $53,000.
"We believe that in order to charge reasonable fees we would need to cover the costs of our utility expenses for the use of outside groups," Cole said during the district's presentation. "This current year we expect to spend $1.2 million on utilities for our schools. We believe we have continue to recoup the maintenance and upkeep of our facility that includes the custodial costs that we currently charge for."
The proposal for what school officials say is a reasonable amount of costs they can charge for and that complies with the law would include the following:
- Recover utility expenses;
- Recover maintenance and upkeep for the additional use beyond regular school;
- Depreciation of property due to additional use beyond regular school use;
- Turf/stadium use;
- Field light use;
- Custodial costs associated with hours beyond normal operating hours;
- Institute special event fee structure
According to the NYS Constitutional Law, Article VIII, Section 1: Gift and Loan Clause; "whenever admissions fees are charged by the facility user or where sales are part of the event, a 'reasonable' amount of the proceeds must be paid over for the general educational or charitable purpose."
Cole said the school district did not know about the law previously and officials were told by their lawyers the district was not in compliance with the law.
"We'd love to accommodate everyone to the extent that we can, but we do have costs which go against our 2-percent tax cap and we do have a compliance issue," Cole said.
Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy suggested last week that sports club representatives "storm" a school board meeting to express their disapproval. Yorktown Councilman Dave Paganelli suggested club representatives ask school board members to "work with them."
Yorktown Central School District officials said in a statement that the "continuingly increasing costs of electricity, heat, upkeep and the accelerated depreciation" of their buildings and fields make it difficult for the district to continue to shoulder the bulk of the costs alone.
For the district's full statement click here.
For the district's presentation, click here.