The Healdsburg Youth Soccer League, broke and reeling from a potential misappropriation of funds by its former president, is looking for help from the city.
The league president plans to ask the City Council tonight to waive the fees that Healdsburg charges the organization for the use of city soccer fields.
At $20 per player for the season, that amounts to $5,400 for the 270 players, said league president Aziz Zhari.
But council members contacted Friday were cool to the idea.
"Given that the city has chopped all kinds of other projects and programs because of the tight budget, I can't conceive where we will find the funding," said Councilman Eric Ziedrich.
He said he is open to hearing the request and getting more analysis from city staff, but is skeptical that fees can be waived.
"If you use parks and fields, there's an impact on the parks and you somehow have to find funding to maintain and repair parks," he said.
Mayor Jim Wood said the council probably would not act on the request tonight, but put it on the agenda for the Oct. 4 meeting. "It's a very difficult question," he said.
"I hate it when kids suffer through no fault of their own. The kids are the ones who are paying for it. It's really unfortunate," he said.
Wood added that he would like to be in a position to do something to help the league. "I don't know where (money) would come from and how we do it. I have to see what the other council members say," he said.
Board members of the soccer league discovered the organization was broke earlier this summer after league checks began to bounce and bills were not being paid. They said former League president Kyle Hoffman was writing league checks to himself for questionable expenditures. They asked Healdsburg Police to investigate.
Police officials said it could take several months to put together the league's financial records and conclude their investigation.
Following publicity of the potential misappropriation of funds, a couple service clubs have expressed interest in helping raise money for the league. And the San Jose Earthquakes donated $4,000 worth of their game tickets to the Youth Soccer League for members to sell and keep the proceeds. The professional soccer organization also is donating $1,000 cash and has enlisted Adidas to donate 125 soccer balls and 150 sports jerseys.
"I'm really happy with what's coming out from all the community," said League President Zhari.
Zhari said there is no question that the season will go forward, as planned but ordinarily the league would have a cushion of $25,000 at this point.
Instead, there is a deficit of $10,000 to $15,000, according to the competitive program director.
Bills coming due include city fees for field use, at least $4,000 for referee services and $2,400 for being part of the California Youth Soccer League.
Other City Council members on Friday said they will entertain the request from the Youth Soccer League, but declined to predict the result.
"I'm interested in hearing what they have to say. I certainly am sympathetic. It's a tough blow to the soccer league and they do a nice job providing a service," said Councilman Tom Chambers.
"I'm willing to listen to them. We are very careful about waiving fees," said Councilman Gary Plass. "We know they have a problem. Everyone is tight now. We're all struggling."