Fees for Field Use?

Fees for Field Use?

Supervisors to consider new fee to help buy land for more fields.

When Supervisor William Bogard’s two children participated in youth sport leagues in the 1990s, the county faced a shortage of ball fields. Today, his children are grown and so has the county, but the number of fields still falls short.

"This is not a new problem," said Bogard (R-Sugarland Run).

Charles Harris (D-Broad Run) has faced a similar situation in the past 11 years as his three children participated in various recreation leagues and in 1997-98 when he served as president of the Ashburn Girls’ Softball League. "Besides getting volunteers, we had a problem getting enough fields for practice time," he said. "I don’t feel we have done enough to keep up with the population growth of young kids."

Harris proposed a field preparation fee to fund the construction and acquisition of new fields and to add lighting to certain existing fields. A fee of $5 for county residents and $10 for non-county residents is expected to generate $320,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004.

"There’s been little opportunity for the public to look at this," said Chairman Scott York (R-At large), suggesting that the board place the item on the docket for the May 6 public hearing or hold a summit involving the county, the schools and the leagues to identify the county’s recreational needs, along with what the schools and leagues want the county to provide. The board agreed 9-0 in favor of holding a summit in mid- to late June.

"This is a very positive outcome," Harris said about the summit. "I haven’t been able to get anyone’s attention before now."

HARRIS PROPOSED the fee to increase the county’s ownership of and access to fields, which is not "enough" through the county’s current means of proffers and new school development, he said. The county currently has 191 fields and the need for 277 additional fields, according to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services’ assessment of field needs for the county’s population of 214,700 residents. The shortage drops to a deficit of 232 fields of 454 needed fields under a new proposed standard that divides some of the larger fields in the county for additional smaller soccer and softball fields.

Initially, the fee would be charged to the 63,000 youth expected to participate in sports programs in FY-04 and not to the 10,000 adult participants. The fee is difficult to implement at both the youth and adult level, since the service delivery arrangements of the two types of sports programs differ, according to the agenda item. The league associations administer the youth sports programs, which are affiliated with the county and require participants to pay fees to the leagues. The adult programs that the county has administered since mid-2001 already offset program operating expenses and 75 percent of program costs.

"I can’t vote on a levy for children playing in our parks," said Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio. "It’s an insult to children."

Supervisor Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) said some parents will not be able to afford to pay the extra fee. "That’s not the children’s fault," he said.

Harris said in response that county policy requires recreation leagues to accommodate families in need. "Why does it not make sense for the users to bear the costs of some of the services they want to see?" he asked

The fees would be handled through a subsidiary account through the budget office.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the Board of Supervisors:

* Tabled to its May 5 meeting continued discussion of amendments to the Solid Waste Management Plan, which the county is required to submit to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by July 2004. The board-appointed Ad Hoc Solid Waste Management Planning Committee developed the draft plan, which outlines the county’s solid waste management needs for the next 20 years.

The committee recommended lowering tipping fees at the County Solid Waste Management Facility to increase competition and to achieve revenue neutrality. The tipping fee reduction would decrease the life expectancy of the facility from 100 years to 65 to 80 years.

"The issue I’m most concerned about is the capacity issue," York said and asked that staff research the issue further.

The seven towns in the county will be required to adopt the plan following the board’s approval. The county will submit the adopted plan to DEQ for the entire County Solid Waste Management Planning District.

* Agreed 9-0 to request up to $100,000 in matching state funds for the design and construction of a section of Claiborne Parkway, which is the 1,200-foot missing link from the proposed Route 7 interchange to an already proffered section at the southern boundary of Aspen Mill. The project is expected to cost $1.56 million.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is accepting applications for the FY-03 Supplemental State Revenue Sharing program, which includes the funds leftover after counties in the state applied for the first round of allocations. Twenty-one counties are eligible to apply for the balance of $525,000.

* Agreed on consent agenda to name a 34-acre proffered park in South Riding as Conklin Community Park for the historical references of the area.

During board comments, York announced that the groundbreaking for the Route 28 and Route 625 intersection project is scheduled in May. "It's an opportunity to known down the old bank building on Church Road [Route 625]," he said.