DUNWOODY, Ga. — A new set of policies and procedures for operating Dunwoody’s athletic fields has at least one youth association crying “foul.”
City officials, however, are saying that while the game is the same, the rules are changing.
Dunwoody Senior Baseball, which operated out of Dunwoody Park for three decades, moved its games in 2017 to newly constructed fields the city built on North Peachtree Road near Peachtree Charter Middle School. According to Dunwoody city officials, the new fields cost about $6.6 million to build.
Prior to its incorporation in 2008, while park fields were under control of DeKalb County, Dunwoody Senior Baseball operated almost autonomously — scheduling games, raising its own funds to make capital improvements and maintaining the fields.
However, the city has proposed new policies and procedures that would drastically change the manner in which Dunwoody Senior Baseball would operate, essentially taking the decision-making process out of the association’s hands and changing the fee structure for using the fields.
The proposed changes call for athletic associations to request use of the fields for camps, clinics and other special events at least 45 days in advance. The proposal also lays out a fee schedule for athletic associations, civic groups and businesses.
Athletic associations would pay $15 an hour to use the fields for a minimum of two hours up to six hours, or $200 a day for a full day’s use. Nonprofits may use the field for $100 per hour for up to six hours, or $1,000 for a full day. Businesses would be charged $1,500 per day, or $850 per half day.
The fee structure and payment schedule are apparently the sticking points with Dunwoody Senior Baseball, according to City Councilwoman Stacey Harris, who, along with Councilman Tom Lambert, has been meeting with the association since the proposed policies were introduced.
In years’ past, Dunwoody Senior Baseball has paid the city at the end of the season based on a percentage of net revenues, Harris said. The new standards call for athletic associations to submit their schedules and pay for the hourly or daily use for the entire season upfront.
Under the proposal, the city would take over maintenance and capital improvements with an open ear to recommendations made by athletic association representatives.
One key element of the new proposal is creating a fund up to $100,000 annually for future capital improvements, Harris said.
“We spent more than $6 million on these state-of-the-art fields and we want to keep it that that way,” Harris said. “While we want to be in partnership with these athletic associations, it is ultimately the city’s decision how funds are collected and spent.”
Harris said the other athletic associations using the city’s fields and parks have accepted the new terms.
One element of the new proposal is an audit of athletic associations’ books, which was conducted by William J. Mulcahy of Mulcahy Accounting and Risk Consulting.
In a report submitted to the city in February, Mulcahy said the audit revealed several discrepancies and deficiencies in the way the Dunwoody Senior Baseball Association is operating and reimbursing the city.
Mulcahy noted there are no internal controls in place regarding the duties of the treasurer.
“DSB internal control lacks a proper segregation of duties as the treasurer can, without appropriate supervision, purchase, issue checks, including to himself, deposit money, record revenue and is responsible to reconcile the bank statements,” Mulcahy noted in his report.
He also said the audit revealed that Dunwoody Senior Baseball officials used “modified net income” rather than “net revenues” to calculate what it owed to the city, which lowered the amount that was paid.
In addition, Mulcahy said several requested documents were not supplied, including an executed facility usage agreement, bank account reconciliations and a written policy on how revenues were determined.
“The results of the audit make us feel like we aren’t 100 percent sure that the numbers we have been given (by Dunwoody Senior to calculate revenue) are altogether accurate,” Harris said.
At the Sept. 29 Dunwoody City Council meeting, several representatives, including Dunwoody Senior Baseball President Jerry Weiner, complained during public comment that the city was overstepping its bounds.
“We don’t think that the city is trying to kill us, or throw us out, but if you read the manual and do the math, it will make our lives significantly more difficult,” Weiner said. “We think we can do a better job than the city managing those fields.”
Lambert said he felt the management and operations should be transferred to the city.
“We are going to work with Dunwoody Senior, but we have to be good stewards,” Lambert said during the meeting.
Weiner declined to comment on specific issues regarding the impasse.
“We are talking to the city and we’ve made progress since that (Sept. 29) City Council meeting,” Weiner said. “We appreciate the opportunity to continue the conversation, but it’s premature to comment any further at this time.”
Dunwoody Parks Department Manager Brett Walker was not available for comment.