I wonder how the other sports leagues around town are going to deal with this, if it is going to cost the relatively small (in comparison to other organizations) Lincroft Little League an additional $25,000 a year to run their league what will it cost the larger leagues such as B.Y.A.A. or Middletown Babe Ruth?
As the person who forwarded me the letter so aptly stated, "One thing I have always observed in Middletown is that you don't mess with people's sports! This one is going to hurt for everyone, including the Township Committee. Scharfenberger may wake up one day to a thousand baseballs on his front lawn...it may get ugly!"
Dear Lincroft Little League Families:
The Board of Directors of Lincroft Little League hopes this letter finds you well. The Board is currently in the process of completing its offseason activities, with the goal of delivering a great 2013 season for your children. As part of this process, we felt it necessary to inform you of a new ordinance that was recently passed by the Middletown Township Committee, which will drastically increase the cost that Lincroft Little League pays for its field permits, and ultimately, will pass on additional registration costs that each family will have to bear for their child(ren) to participate in Lincroft Little League.
On December 17, 2012 the Middletown Township Committee unanimously passed ordinance 2012‐3074, entitled, “Ordinance Amending Recreation Fee Schedules Governing Field Facility Rental Permits”. A link to the full written ordinance will be included with this letter, but the material goal of the ordinance is for the town to begin charging every sports organization in Middletown Township a field permit amount equal to $20 per two hour block of field usage for ALL GAMES AND PRACTICES. The town plans to use the proceeds from this new permit program to create a township‐wide sports field improvement fund. On numerous occasions, the Board has asked representatives from the town how they plan to allocate funds from this program to actual field improvement projects, and they cannot answer us, as quite frankly, the town has not thought that far ahead. It appears the town wants to collect funds now and then figure out how to allocate those funds to actual projects later.
In passing this ordinance, the Middletown Township Committee has let down Lincroft Little League in a variety of ways:
1) While conceiving this ordinance, the town was open to working with the individual leagues to create an ordinance that would raise capital for the town to make improvements to fields, without becoming financially burdensome to the leagues. Representatives from our board were assured that the “bigger” leagues would be treated differently, as they tend to have more registrations, and would bear a much higher cost, than smaller leagues or independent teams. The town did not honor this, and as a result, the implementation of this ordinance will have the effect of becoming overly financially burdensome to the league.
2) Although the town recognizes that Lincroft Little League has done an exemplary job of self‐maintaining the fields and facilities at M.T.T. Park (the home of Lincroft Little League) at zero cost to the town, not all fields within Middletown have had the same level of upkeep. As such, Lincroft Little League will be expected to pay into this fund immediately, but cannot reasonably anticipate reaping any benefits from the town in the first few years as funds will be invested in other Middletown fields first.
3) The Board was told by the town that the motivation for this new ordinance was to align the town with other towns in Monmouth County that were charging similar permit fees for their fields. We have asked other leagues what they pay to their towns, and their answers were in direct contrast to what we were told by Middletown. Colts Neck, Eatontown, Manalapan, Tinton Falls, and Long Branch do not pay any permit fees. Freehold pays a permit fee to its town, but much less than what the Lincroft Board estimates its fees will be.
The Board projects that the league will incur a new charge of approximately $25,000 as a result of the implementation of this ordinance. The field permit fees are now the second largest expense in our budget, after the cost of uniforms and equipment. With approximately 800 children in the league, the fee amounts to about $30 per player. Because the ordinance was approved several weeks after the Board had opened registration, the 2013 registration fee does not cover this unexpectedly large expense. This leaves Lincroft Little League with a very large deficit for the 2013 season.
The Board is dealing with this problem in three ways:
1) We are lobbying township officials for some kind of action to reduce these fees. We have expressed our opposition to this ordinance to township officials in several forums and are attempting to explain to them how much of a burden these new permit fees would be for our league. We are working with officials in other large youth organizations in this effort. Board members attended the Township Committee meeting in December in which the ordinance was passed and spoke out about the financial burden. A small group of us met with township officials in January to reiterate our concerns and provide further details about the costs of the permit fees. We speak with the Recreation Department officials regularly about the fees. You can help in this matter by using the contact information below to call or email members of the Township Committee.
2) The board is looking for ways to cut costs in our budget.
3) If the permit fees are not significantly reduced by the township, we will be asking each family to pay $20 per player (maximum of $50 per family) to help alleviate the financial burden of this new expense. This payment will be collected by the league, but checks should be made out to the Township of Middletown, since all of this money will be going to the township.
Our goal for the season is to minimize the amount that we have to pay to the town, while maximizing the experience your children have come to expect. We would like to hear your thoughts on cost cutting measures that we could undertake. We could eliminate participation trophies, play fewer games overall, not make up rainouts, eliminate field and capital improvement projects, to name a few, but we do value your opinion on which cuts the Board should prioritize. Please send your thoughts to Don O’Rourke at email@example.com and Ron Antonelli at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also urge you to send emails and letters to the Middletown Township Committee to let them know your opinions on this new ordinance, as well as to make the town understand that they need to cap the cost of the permits to alleviate the financial burden on the league. Their contact information is listed below:
Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger
Deputy Mayor Stephanie Murray
Committeeman Anthony Fiore
Committeeman Stephen Massell
Committeeman Kevin Settembrino
Link to contact the Township Committee (you can call or email through this link):
Link to the ordinance:
The Lincroft Little League Board of Directors