Oceanside loses Parks and Rec budget in the lights

City officials in Oceanside are on the offensive and are searching for ways to save money in its Parks and Recreation budget. One way the city looked to score cash is by raising the fees it charges youth sports leagues for lights at the public fields.

In 2008, the city charged $14 an hour to power the lights. At Wednesday's city council meeting, city staff recommended upping the fees to $27 an hour.

Eileen Turk from Oceanside's Parks and Recreation Department justified the rate increase to councilmembers by providing the results of a survey that found that the City of Oceanside was second lowest in generating fees at recreation centers throughout the county.

"We are just trying to close the gap and come closer to cost recovery," said Turk. "Our costs continue to go up."

Bill Rietman, the president of the Soccer Club of Oceanside, which has more than 1400 members, cried foul over the increased fees during his comments to councilmembers.

"Just using back-of-the-envelope math, that's almost a 100 percent increase. Last year [the Soccer Club of Oceanside] used almost 1000 hours of lights. Our concern is that it would [cost us] $27,000 a year."

Rietman estimated the new fees would result in a $10 increase to join the soccer league.

Councilmembers deliberated on the issue after hearing Rietman's comments and later approved all other proposed fee increases, such as raising rates at the El Corazon Senior Center and increasing the gazebo rental fees at city parks.

Regarding the rate increase to use the lights at city sports fields, the council directed city staff to look into ways at reducing energy costs and return in 60 days with a game plan.

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