Council under pressure to re-think stadium fee

ALBURY councillors are under pressure to re-visit the contentious $100 up-front charge facing junior basketballers playing at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.

The council last night adopted its 2014-15 draft budget with the exception of stadium fees and charges after 11th hour lobbying of councillors.

The council last month agreed to the introduction of the lump-sum impost to replace the game-by-game payment method from July 1 but the budget was subject to consultation.

Former Lauren Jackson Sports Centre advisory committee chairman Daryl Betteridge presented a 500-signature petition to city general manager Frank Zaknich from junior basketballers opposing the up-front charge.

It followed a meeting late last week between Cr Betteridge, deputy mayor Henk van de Ven and advisory group chairman Cr Ross Jackson with disgruntled junior basketball officials.

Mr Zaknich confirmed a report on the stadium fees and charges would be presented at the June meeting.

Director of community and recreation James Jenkins said some clubs had concerns with the seasonal court hire fee that had been accepted by Albury Basketball Association.

“There is already a seasonal fee for seniors and we are only talking about junior players,” he said.

“The report will be on fees and charges and doesn’t say anything about being revisited. Councillors could revisit it if they wanted.

“We were aware there was a petition being collected.”

The system was floated in 2009 after the dumping of a $2 spectator fee which was met with widespread anger.

The stadium has run at a loss every year since 2005-06 with the biggest blowout coming in 2011-12 when costs peaked at $1.05 million.

An up-front payment already operates for senior basketball, but it has been opposed at junior basketball level even though parents could be almost $35 better off per season.

At present, parents need to pay $7.10 for tickets for junior basketball as players arrive.

That requires staff to be rostered on to collect the money for the association, which contributes $11,000 to the centre’s annual operating costs.

Cr Jackson said: “It is going through a review stage — we will take on board the concerns and try and push forward with a solution”.