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Cerritos City Council Confronted by Little League Parents Over Increased Fees

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Flag of City of Cerritos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Council to Reconsider Fees at Dec. 13th Meeting

By Jerry Bernstein

It was standing room only in the Cerritos Council Chambers Nov. 19 when angry members of the Frontier Little League confronted the Cerritos Council over proposed fee increases in order to use the city’s athletic fields.

Mayor Jim Edwards opened the meeting by saying the fees would be re-addressed at the council’s Dec. 13 meeting. He explained the council could not vote to reconsider the fees that night because the matter was not on the agenda, but would be on the Dec. 13 meeting agenda.

City Attorney Mark Steres explained under state law the council was prohibited from voting on an item unless it was on the agenda. He said the only exception was if the item was classified as an emergency. He said, “The most the council could do is put the item on a future agenda which it did tonight.”

Little League parents complained they were not notified that the fees were going to be raised, noting that their budgets were already approved for the 2013 season. They accused Recreation Director Sherry Titus of not notifying them, contradicting her statement made at the previous meeting that all the organizations that use the city’s recreation facilities had been notified.

Residents accused the Recreation Director of never notifying anyone about the fee increase. “Wasn’t it odd that no representatives of the organizations present tonight were not here at the council’s last meeting, longtime Cerritos resident Chris Borsa asked. Ms. Titus never notified anyone, although she said she did. In 2010 when this was first discussed we were told we would be notified in writing when it came before the city council. She sent out over 500 notices regarding the tennis court at Westgate Park about pickle-ballers why could you not notify us?”

Resident Sherry Wilson said she believes the problem is the council doesn’t realize how important the city parks are to the residents. “We should not penalize children from other cities who come here to play. She said if there are 10 members on a team and four live outside the city, when they play they represent Cerritos.

Swimming Coach Mark Johnson said he has been coaching swimming in Cerritos for 37 years. “We know the rates are going to go up. We also know, compared to other cities, they are very reasonable.”

Lakewood resident Christina Crenshaw said, “ Lakewood has softball, but this is one of the best baseball leagues in California. This is where I chose to enroll my seven year old. When you talk about raising fees, you have to understand when children are not involved in activities they’re going to get into trouble.” She said she realizes the city is affected by the recession, the same as families. By raising the fees some children will be forced to drop out of the program because their families will not be able to afford it. She said, “In Lakewood we charge our non-residents a little more.”

One Cerritos resident said the increase in fees may impact all the sports activities and may reverse what has been achieved to date. She said the children thrive with the recreational programs offered as well as thrive with their participations in the programs. They are recognized for their skills, accomplishments and sportsmanship.

She noted that it has become difficult for some families to have their children participate in the recreational activities because of financial difficulties. She asked the council to reconsider their vote on raising fees.

Lori Williams, PTSA President, thanked the council for placing the raise in fees back on the Dec. 13 agenda. She said when a child puts on a Cerritos uniform, it doesn’t matter what city they come from. They represent Cerritos. She said she hopes they can all work together to straighten this out.

Another parent agreed they should not raise the fees. He said the proposed fee hikes do not make any sense and would hope the city would meet the parents halfway and work with them to resolve the problem.

Another resident said the council was not given the true facts at its last meeting. “I don’t think due diligence was done.

Councilmember Mark Pulido sympathized with the parents and asked if the council could vote on the matter “tonight” under an emergency item. City Attorney Steres said it did not qualify as an emergency agenda item. The council then voted to put it on the Dec. 13 agenda, instructing staff to make its recommendations at that time.

At the previous council meeting, Councilmember Carol Chen asked if all the organization had been notified about the fee increase. She was told they had been notified.

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