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The Press Newspaper

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Oregon City Council on Monday will consider an ordinance providing for a fee schedule for non-resident participation in city recreation programs.

Oregon students whose parents are employed in the Oregon City Schools District, but who live outside the city, were no longer allowed to participate in the city recreation program after July 31 last year.

Following complaints, the city’s recreation and parks committee came up with a fee schedule that would allow non-residents to participate if council passes an ordinance on the issue Monday.

At a committee of the whole meeting last week, council debated the matter.

Councilman Terry Reeves, chairman of the committee, said the committee, the city recreation advisory board, and city recreation director believe the inclusion of non-resident participation in the Oregon parks and recreation youth and adult sports program enhances the recreation experience for Oregon residents through increased diversity, quantity and quality of competition.

“A fee structure for non-resident participation was developed that covers the recreation department program expenses, including a surcharge in fairness to Oregon residents,” he said.

Non-resident participation would continue for Jerusalem Township residents, and would also be extended to include Oregon Board of Education open enrollment students, as well as immediate family members of city employees. The recommendation for the fee structure is based on current facility and program capabilities as well as comparative data that were collected.

Oregon Recreation Director Joe Wasserman said the proposed ordinance has been in serious discussion for about one year.

“We are proposing a 20 percent increase as a surcharge to our current cost for the non-resident participation,” said Wasserman.

“When this subject came up, it was the administrative position to not allow any of these additional people into the program,” said Mayor Mike Seferian. “The position of the city, administratively, would be to continue just that: not allowing non-residents to compete in our recreation program. Some people complained about that. The ordinance gives the administration a tool to allow non-residents to take part in the recreation program. Prior to this, there was no real tool that would make it possible for someone else to compete in a fair manner, so it would still be my position that this would only be offered to Oregon residents. However, I said if council could come up with something, and it was supported by a majority, I would choose to allow the city to administer this ordinance and allow these people to enter the program. Even if council doesn’t pass this, if something doesn’t seem to be working out, administratively we could end these programs at any time. This ordinance does not give someone the right to compete in the Oregon recreation program. It gives them the privilege to play in the Oregon recreation program. I just want to make that clear. Council, this is your ordinance. This is not an administrative ordinance.”

If the ordinance is passed, a resident would pay $20 to participate in Youth Baseball and Softball Tier 1, though the actual cost to the city is $50. A half mill operating levy and money from the city’s general fund would pay the $30 difference. For non-resident participation in the same program, the cost would be $50 in addition to a 20 percent surcharge, or $60.

The uniform cost for residents and non-residents would cost the same.

Reeves said there are “certain people out there who are dead set against non-residents playing in Oregon recreation.”

“This just tells them what it’s going to cost an Oregon resident so these people see they’re paying $20 and a non-resident is paying $60. What isn’t factored into it is the uniform. Some people want to know what it’s going to cost their child as an Oregon resident versus what it’s going to cost a non-resident. People have to have that number in their heads to see if it’s a fair and equitable decision of what we came up with in our committee,” said Reeves.

Councilman Dennis Walendzak, who is also on the recreation and parks committee, said the surcharge could be more than 20 percent in the future.

“At last week’s committee meeting, we did discuss that the roughly 20 percent fee could be flexible if we find that those costs need to be increased a little bit. It doesn’t hold us to just a 20 percent cost. That would be assessed by the administration,” said Walendzak.

“I don’t think this proposed ordinance does anything like that,” said Councilman Jerry Peach. “I think this ordinance says it provides for a fee schedule for non-resident participation in the city of Oregon’s parks and recreation youth and adult sports programs. But there is no fee schedule. There is no authorization in this ordinance to delegate to the administration a fee schedule, decide what the surcharge is.”

Seferian agreed.

“That is exactly correct. It wasn’t set to do that. Council asked for a cost analysis. So that just was what it would cost a non-resident to enter our program. And what we had said administratively is that next year, that cost could change…and then there would be a new fee for each of the events for non-residents to enter the program,” said Seferian.

Council voted 5-2 to place the proposed ordinance on the following Monday’s city council agenda. Council members Sandy Bihn and Peach were opposed.

Bihn wanted to know if other local communities such as Toledo, Sylvania and Maumee have similar non-resident participation in recreation programs.

Wasserman said Sylvania and Maumee have non-residents participation fees.

Bihn also said that over half of the participants on teams in the recreation program are non-residents.

“That’s a lot. I’m rather surprised at these figures,” she said.

Reeves said the figures she was looking at were for adult leagues.

“It still seems like we’re providing a program where over half the participants in the program are not from our community. It just sounds like a lot to me,” said Bihn.

Some of the adult programs and Tier 2 baseball programs would not exist if the city didn’t open it up to non-resident participation, said Wasserman.

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