City restores equal sports fees for all residents

Published 6:28 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

Registration fees for Bainbridge Leisure Services programs will remain the same for both city residents and those living outside city limits, City Manager Chris Hobby said Friday afternoon.

Earlier this week, as signups for Leisure Services’ football and cheerleading programs began, some who lived outside city limits expressed surprise and concern at having to pay more than city residents did.

Since 2004, the City of Bainbridge had been operating under an agreement with Decatur County to charge the same rates to everyone. However, that agreement expired over the summer as county commissioners, facing a continued budget crunch, chose not to include the $65,000 they had been paying to subsidize the equal fees in their annual budget.

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Hobby said city officials reconsidered charging higher fees to make up the difference.

“It was the right thing to do for families, after all, we all live within Decatur County,” Hobby said. “It wouldn’t be fair to make the kids who want to play suffer or to punish county leaders just because they are facing a budget crunch.”

Hobby said he received assurance from county officials that they would restore their support for city-organized recreation programs, next year.

The county’s contribution helps offset the approximately $1 million per year the city government spends on recreation programs, Hobby said.

“This is a small gesture on our part to work with them on this issue, and I’m hopeful they will return the gesture as we work together on other issues.”

The fee schedule will remain the same for all county citizens for all Leisure Services programs, including the Tennis Center and city pool. Hobby said anyone who already paid the higher rate this week can get a refund of the difference in the form of a voucher, which can be used toward concessions at the Bill Reynolds Sports Park.