Oregon City Council on Monday tabled a proposed ordinance that would have provided for a fee schedule for non-resident participation in city recreation programs.
It will discuss the matter further at this Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Recently, the city’s recreation and parks committee came up with a fee schedule for non-residents to participate in the recreation program.
Non-resident participation would continue for Jerusalem Township residents, but the ordinance would extend participation to include Oregon Board of Education open enrollment students and non-resident participation for immediate family members of city employees.
The fee schedule included a 20 percent increase as a surcharge to the current cost for non-resident participation.
Councilman Terry Reeves, chairman of the recreation and parks committee, supported the fee schedule, saying that 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 at a committee of the whole meeting two weeks ago. Council voted 5-2 to place it on the following Monday’s council agenda.
Further discussion on the issue prompted Reeves to pull the ordinance from consideration on Monday so he could “tweak” the fees and other parts of the proposal before reintroducing it at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Councilman Jerry Peach said he understood the need to allow open enrollment students to participate in the rec program.
“There’s a certain logic in letting those students participate. But extending it beyond to employees of the city of Oregon as some special group deserving of special consideration is hard to justify,” said Peach.
Heidi Coughlin, of Cambridge Dr. thought only residents should participate in the program.
“I think it’s important that we keep recreation sports for kids within our community,” said Coughlin, who coaches soccer, softball and basketball. “Eligibility for kids to participate in rec programs should be a yes or no answer to one question: Are you a resident of Oregon? Our rec services should remain a privilege to resident children of the district.”
She said only residents should be allowed to participate, since their taxes fund the rec program.
“It’s the parents, and many times the grandparents of these Oregon children, who pay property taxes, who will vote on your school levies and recreation levies, and spend money on a daily basis in the community. I think many of them would be very agitated to think their tax dollars were being spent carelessly,” said Coughlin.
Councilman James Seaman said the proposed ordinance particularly focused on non-resident students who will participate in open enrollment in the Oregon City Schools District.
“Our school district has gone to an open enrollment system,” said Seaman. “There are a few kids that will be coming here to go to school, and that was one target group we thought should possibly have a different fee rate and maybe be able to participate, because it would be hard for them to go back to their other school and participate when they made friends with the kids here in the Oregon schools.”
He agreed with Reeves that the matter should be discussed further at the committee of the whole meeting on Monday.
“I’m sure you’ll provide some additional input to us so we can get additional insight,” said Seaman.
Mayor Mike Seferian said he and Administrator Mike Beazley will work with Reeves to try to come up with a viable solution.
“Maybe we can work it out administratively that satisfies everyone,” he said.
After the meeting, Reeves said he was going to re-draft the ordinance.
He said he wants to drop the provision that would allow non-resident participation for immediate family members of city employees. He said there have never been children of non-resident city employees who have participated in the recreation program. “Those kids are involved in the recreation programs in their own communities,” he said.
“The only non-residents who are going to be able to participate are the kids who go to Oregon schools, whether it’s open enrollment of students from outside the district, or students of parents who work for the Oregon school district. Those are the only ones who will be involved, along with Jerusalem Township, since their kids go to Oregon schools,” he said.