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Williamsport to bill Little League for utilities

May 17, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - The town of Williamsport decided Monday to start charging Conococheague Little League for utilities.

League President Walter Williams is mad and is thinking of playing elsewhere.

"If they bill me, I'm going to be looking for a place," he said Wednesday.

The town lets the league use its fields. In return, Williams said, the league has spent more than $100,000 to maintain and improve the property.

Some Williamsport Town Council members said at their meeting Monday that the arrangement is costing the town money.

The council voted 5-1 to give the league $3,500 in the next fiscal year's budget, but to start billing the league for utilities right away, retroactive to April 1.

Clerk/Treasurer James R. Castle said the league used $10,000 worth of water, sewer service and electricity last year. About 80 percent was water and sewer, he said.

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That doesn't include other services the town provides for the league, Mayor James G. McCleaf II said.

During Monday's meeting, Councilmen Earle S. Pereschuk Sr. and Jeff Cline spoke strongly in favor of charging the league.

Calling the fields "Camden Yards West" - a reference to the Baltimore Orioles' stadium - Cline said young ballplayers remember highlights of games later in life, not whether the grass was green.

"There's no attempt to conserve," he said, referring to water usage.

Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones cast the only no vote, arguing that the league does a lot for the town.

"We need to invest in these children," he said.

McCleaf said Tuesday that the town used to give money to the Little League, but didn't last year.

In past years, Williams said, the town gave $1,500 to the league, the league gave it back for utilities and they called it even.

Williams said he figured that recent talk about utilities was straightened out when the league spent more than $4,000 on a pumping system to draw water from a nearby stream for the fields.

"I thought that was the agreement," he said. "If I cut down, that would be it."

Williams attends nearly every council meeting, from start to finish, every month. He was present Monday, but left when his daughter called him for advice.

While he was away, the council brought up the topic and voted on it.

McCleaf said charging the league is necessary.

"The bills have gotten out of hand," he said.

The town has a more exact metering system now and is noticing the usage.

The town was supposed to bill the league annually for six months' of electricity, but hasn't, he said.

McCleaf said he knows Williams is upset, and the town will try to assist the league.

"If we need to do a fundraiser to help, we will," he said.

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