Members of the Hempstead Town Board today condemned the decision by Nassau County to abandon its long-standing policy of waiving usage fees for little league organizations, calling the move a massive and unaffordable fee hike on that will decimate Little Leagues and cause participation to fall due to increased costs on league families.
“Nassau County’s decision to unilaterally impose over a million dollars in fees on little leagues is an affront to hard working taxpayers across Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead. Little leagues are at the very essence of community cohesion all across our nation. They bring families and neighbors together and provide young kids the opportunity to compete and make lifelong friendships – while being kept active in a healthy activity and away from drugs,” stated Councilwoman King Sweeney.
As reported in Newsday, the decision by the County administration, pursuant to a memorandum from the administration justifying the suspension of all fee waivers for ballfield usage as a way to help solve the County’s fiscal crisis, would represent approximately one million dollars in fees that will charged to little leagues. As of March 1st, the Seaford Little League received a bill for $16,000 from the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums.
“The idea that Nassau County thinks it can solve its financial problems on the backs of hardworking men and women who volunteer their time to run little leagues is the height of absurdity,” stated Councilman Bruce Blakeman. “What the County is doing here is passing its financial problems on to the little leagues, who will have no choice but to pass those costs on to their membership,” said Councilman Edward Ambrosino. Councilman Dennis Dunne added, “This will mean fewer kids on the teams and leagues taking their operations elsewhere.”
The imposition of these mandatory fees would add to the burden on Nassau County taxpayers, already widely reported as paying the highest taxes and fees in the nation. Indeed, these fees were imposed unilaterally and without any warning or input from league officials. Town Board members also questioned the impact of this policy on children in underprivileged communities at a time when the opioid crisis has reached new heights.
“As a former NYPD Detective, I know firsthand the importance of providing activities for our youth as a way to stay off the streets, away from drugs, and build their future. Undercutting our little leagues in this way will only make our streets less safe in Nassau County,” stated Councilman Anthony D’Esposito. “The solution here is not for Nassau County to pass the buck on to league families. I join with my colleagues on condemning this outrageous plan,” said Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin. “We call upon the County Executive to do the right thing and rescind this ill-conceived policy. Our kids deserve to have the opportunity to play baseball and softball that’s affordable for all the people of Nassau County,” added Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby.
The Councilmembers further noted that Hempstead Town continues to be a little league-friendly township, welcoming league organizations from across the municipality to play in Town parks while waiving most fees for their use of fields, lighting and equipment.
“The Town of Hempstead will not stand idly by while Nassau County decimates our community little leagues with this latest short-sighted money grab. If the County Executive does not act to stand behind these leagues, we will,” concluded Councilwoman King Sweeney.