City Council passes ‘pay to play’

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Selma City Council unanimously approved a rule Selma Parks and Recreation Director Elton Reece hopes will bolster parents’ participation in recreation league sports.

A $10 registration fee and presence of a parent or guardian is required to join a team. The fee applies to each participating child and each sport the child plays.

The council approved the measure in an 8-0 vote on Tuesday. Selma City Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw left the meeting prior to the vote.

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According to Reece, about 260 of the 2,000 children that signed up for the youth baseball and softball programs last year quit prior to the end of the season.

“I’ve got to do something to get the parents more involved,” said Reece. “I’m just trying to have some way where they have to take some responsibility and bring their kids to the stadium to sign up.”

According to Selma City Councilwoman Geraldine Allen, Reece originally recommended a $25 fee.

However Allen said Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph polled a number of parents with children in the program, and most said they could not afford to pay $25 for the registration and application fee. Reece and the council compromised on the $10 fee.

“It sounded like a pretty reasonable amount,” said Allen. “We do agree with Mr. Reece that we need to charge something because there are so many people who bring their children out there who are not their parents.”

Reece said lack on interest, especially toward the end of the season, led to forfeits. Children were also left at the ball parks after practices and games without a ride home.

Recreation departments around the state have been charging participation fees for years, Reece said. They also charge a lot more.

“Our parents are paying an average of $40 per player,” said Mark Pettus, director of Demopolis Parks and Recreation. “Our parents have to fork out $40, and parents run the league.”

Participants in the Prattville Leisure Services youth soccer and basketball programs pay about $40. Parents pay for and run all other sports.

Though the fee is set at $10, it is subject to change. A participation goal has not been set, but there is a chance that the fee will be raised if participation does not increase.

“We’re going to have to evaluate it,” said Allen. “If (participation is not up), we may have to increase it to $25.”