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Recreation Authority votes to go back to drawing board with new policy

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Recreation Authority readdressed a tabled policy pertaining to fee-based instruction using public facilities at its meeting Thursday evening.

The authority discussed the policy at their last meeting in July and tabled it for discussion and a potential vote up or down at its meeting this month. The proposed policy allows instructors not associated with the authority to provide instruction for a fee using public facilities.

Thursday, the authority had two options: bring the policy off the table to be discussed and voted on, or vote to postpone the policy for discussion at a later date.

“If you pull it off the table, it needs to be voted up or down tonight,” authority chairman Jeff Findley said. “It’s already been sitting there for a month.”

The facility use policy lists stipulations that instructors must abide by, including possession of a business license, a certificate of liability with the City of Bainbridge and a 15 percent charge of all revenue to be remitted to the authority.

A motion to postpone the policy by Brandon Conley, seconded by Carol Floyd, was shot down 3-2. The nay voters were Jeff Lynn and Tynese Jones. The state legislation that enabled the authority calls for a majority vote of the membership to pass a motion. Because the chairman does not vote, a passing motion requires four votes.

The authority had the option to hear the motion for bringing the policy off the table to be discussed and voted on at that time, but no such motion was made. The policy died, and the authority will have to start over with shaping it.

But that may not be a bad thing, according to Recreation Authority Director Al Kelley, who recommended postponing the policy at the beginning of the meeting to continue improving it based on the feedback he has received.

“I don’t want us to adopt a bad policy,” Kelley said. “When I’ve had a month to think about it. This policy is going to affect, baseball, softball, basketball. It’s going to affect any program that comes along. I would like us to back up and come up with a policy. I think that should be the goal and I think we should do that.”

City Manager Chris Hobby and County Administrator Alan Thomas agreed, explaining that in their experience, rushing into a policy usually ends poorly.

“In the last month it has already changed seemingly significantly,” Thomas said. “So if you do it as he is stating on the fly now, it may not be a month that you’re back addressing it.”

Another issue brought up was that half of the Floyd Complex Courts by Bainbridge Middle School were owned by the Decatur County Board of Education, and the other half were owned by the City of Bainbridge.

“I don’t see this authority being able to obligate somebody else’s property,” Findley said.

The authority discussed speaking with the Board of Education’s attorney, Bruce Kirbo, to address the use of the Floyd Courts.

“There is nobody in this room that is ready to tackle this thing and get it behind us (more than me),” said authority member Bert Hines. “But I do have some concerns about this Board of Education (property) that has come to light. I was ready to rock and roll, but now I do have some concerns.”

The Recreation Authority’s attorney, David Kendrick, also had concerns about the policy, noting in a letter to members that the authority should be careful when authorizing its athletic facilities to be used for commercial profit and to be cautious about instructors utilizing facilities without supervision from facility directors.

“The authority must be prepared to appropriately respond in the event any complaints or negative reports are received concerning the private instructor,” Kendrick’s letter reads.

Kelley recommended the authority meet for a special called meeting to revisit the policy.