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November 13, 2012MILTON, Ga. — History was made in Milton and Alpharetta as council members from both cities agreed to eliminate non-resident park fees for recreational programs.
Both cities approved a new agreement at their Nov. 5 city council meetings.
"This is a big thing for our residents," Milton Interim Parks and Recreation Director Jim Cregge said. "Our residents have had to pay non-resident fees of up to $150 to Alpharetta for their kids to play sports in Alpharetta.
"This will allow more Milton kids the opportunity to play the sports they love at a reduced cost to the parents," Cregge said.
"It's something we've been looking forward to for a long time," said Alpharetta Parks and Recreation Director Mike Perry.
Both councils voted unanimously to approve the measure.
Non-resident fees are a contentious issue for Milton. People living next door to North Park, which is wholly encompassed by Milton, had to pay these fees, from which Alpharetta residents were exempt. While Milton's government has long pushed for the dismissal of these fees, they had nothing to offer Alpharetta as a bargaining chip. After all, why should Alpharetta give up some added revenue on something they paid to build?
In exchange for removing the fees, Milton city leaders agreed to pay the city of Alpharetta about $325,000 a year.
The change will go into effect Dec. 1.
"This wasn't a quick decision," Cregge said. "We developed a formula based on what our residents were paying in non-resident fees to Alpharetta, and based on that and fees paid to Milton, determined an agreed upon amount the city will pay to Alpharetta."
The new agreement will be reviewed annually and adjusted based on various factors. As Milton's parks expand, the city's contribution to Alpharetta will decrease.
This comes as Milton finalized its Parks and Recreation Master Plan and is well on its way to making Bell Memorial Park a sizable park.
Cregge believes the decision is beneficial to both cities.
"This allows Milton to provide an opportunity for our residents to have a less expensive way to play sports while our parks are growing, and then allows Alpharetta residents to use our parks without non-resident fees now," he said.
Alpharetta currently has 22 diamond fields and four rectangular fields, with North Park actually located wholly inside Milton's city limits.
Milton only has four diamond fields.
"My daughter plays at North Park and half of her team probably lives in Milton. Her coach is a resident of Milton," said Alpharetta Councilman Jim Gilvin in his vote for the measure. "Just because we've always done it that way doesn't mean it has to stay that way. I think this is a good agreement and will work well for everybody involved."
The hope is that the lower fees will attract more residents to take part in the programs, said Perry.
"Alpharetta has reached their capacity for parks, and unfortunately has no room to grow," said Milton Councilman Matt Kunz. "Milton is still growing, and this agreement fills a need for both cities. It's a win-win."