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Amid dissension, Suamico board approves contract with HSYSA

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

SUAMICO – A formal agreement for the Howard-Suamico Youth Sports Association to continue to use facilities in both villages has been approved through the end of 2024, but not without some dissension.

The Suamico village board voted 5-2 Monday, May 20, in favor of the agreement with Village President Laura Nelson and Trustee Dan Roddan being opposed.

HSYSA has previously been working with both villages to run a youth sports program, though the terms of that relationship between the parties hadn’t been put in writing.

“They, of course, take care of the programs for us, for baseball, for girls’ softball, and other sports as appropriate,” said Suamico Village Administrator Steve Kubacki. “In essence, we would like to foster a real positive work environment with HSYSA. There have been some blips in the road at points in time.”

Kubacki noted Suamico’s parks and recreation committee unanimously recommended approving the agreement.

“We would recommend approval of this agreement,” Kubacki said. “I think it’s something that could be modified as appropriate over time, but it tries to address our expectations, their expectations, and kind of lays out the things we’ve been doing over the years.”

The agreement, which had previously been approved by both the HSYSA Board of Directors and the Howard village board, will automatically renew for an additional five-year term unless one of the parties provides written notice at least 90 days prior to the expiration date of Dec. 31, 2024, indicating an intent to terminate or modify that agreement.

Prior to that expiration date, the parties could also mutually decide to terminate the agreement at any time.

The dissension expressed by the two Suamico board members related to the wording of the agreement for accountability and transparency of HSYSA’s finances.

Nelson took exception with the wording of a provision about the fees being collected by HSYSA being “properly accounted for with monthly and annual accounting statements submitted to the Villages,” given what she called “weak” financial statements HSYSA has provided to Suamico in the past.

“Why haven’t we specified with more detail exactly what we’re looking for?” Nelson asked Kubacki.

Kubacki said each party in the agreement is responsible for its own dollars, funds and contributions.

“We felt that we really shouldn’t be involved in their finances, just like they’re not involved with our finances,” he said.

Dan Roddan

Roddan said he found it “a weak statement” when a not-for-profit organization that asks for village funds is not required to disclose its finances.

“We provide them a place in our building to store their equipment,” Roddan said. “We’re being fully transparent with them, yet this organization does not want to be transparent with us when it comes to their financials and what they do, how much money they have.”

Trustee Sky Van Rossum said he wouldn’t expect an organization like HSYSA to disclose its finances to either village.

“I don’t necessarily want to show my financials to Howard or Suamico, because I don’t want you to think that I’m playing favorites to Howard, and I don’t want you to think that I’m playing favorites to Suamico,” Van Rossum said. “I don’t want to start that discussion. I want to be in charge of my own funds. If I need to be accountable for funds that you’ve given me to spend, then yes, they should be accountable for those funds.”

When Van Rossum asked Roddan about whether the benefit of doing business with HSYSA is greater than not seeing the organization’s finances, Roddan responded, “You’re not-for-profit, what is there to hide?”

Sky Van Rossum

Trustee Steve Andrews, who noted the village provided $4,184 in leftover funds to HSYSA in 2014, said the limited amount of financial information the village received from HSYSA showed the organization paid $16,500 for scoreboards at Calavera Springs Park in 2014 and another $6,900 for other items over the past two years.

“It’s something,” Andrews said. “At least we’re seeing something.”

Kubacki said he hopes the agreement will help out with HSYSA providing Suamico with more dollars in the future for the village’s facilities.

Nelson took exception with the agreement stating that only the “excess funds generated through concession sales”

HSYSA receives could be used for proposed field/park improvements.

“Why isn’t this broader?” Nelson asked. “It shouldn’t be limited to concession sales… I have a sense I know this group. They’re – I don’t want to say shady – they’re questionable, because they’re all volunteers… They showed us this walking taco thing, and I don’t like their accounting measures.”

Van Rossum questioned what authority the two villages have in how HSYSA handles its finances.

“They have nothing to do with our village government, they have nothing to do with Howard, they’re an independent organization of volunteers who have come together, to bring funds together, and out of the goodness of their heart, occasionally, they decided to donate $6,900 to the Village of Suamico,” Van Rossum said.

Roddan took exception to some drafted language being removed.

He said HSYSA succeeded in getting language stricken from the agreement related to the proper operation of concession facilities and complying with federal, state, county and village rules and regulations for the physical conditions of the premises as well as village ordinances and state statutes pertaining to sales and use tax.
“They wanted that stricken, and we just struck it,” he said.

Roddan said he found all of HSYSA’s sports programs to be successful, but didn’t like the lack of transparency.

“Just be transparent – transparent with your funds – and they don’t want to be,” Roddan said.

Even if not explicitly stated in the agreement, Kubacki said HSYSA will be required to comply with federal, state and local rules and regulations as a not-for-profit organization.

“Sometimes it’s just a little bit too much Big Brother,” Kubacki said.

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