A special session of the has been called to discuss and approve a new fee schedule for groups to use the athletics field at Milford High School.
The meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the conference room of Superintendent Robert Tremblay, which is located in an annex to The meeting is open to the public but the public will not be allowed to address the committee, said Patrick Holland, a School Committee member who sat on an advisory committee concerning the fees.
The decision to hold a special session, ahead of the regularly scheduled April 5 School Committee meeting, is so the fee schedule can be established before seasons begin for several Milford youth sports leagues, including soccer and lacrosse.
has upset many parents and organizations, who had expected the fee to be as low as $25 an hour based on the recommendation of the town's Community Fields Committee.
In an interview last week, Brian Murray, a Milford selectman who is that board's liaison to the Community Fields Committee, said the committee had developed a recommended fee schedule at the request of the administration. That recommendation: groups primarily made up of Milford players would pay $25 an hour, while out-of-town organizations would pay $100 an hour.
"They put something else together," said Murray of the School Committee, who said he was "very surprised" that the community fields' recommendation was rejected.
Holland said Tuesday the School Committee never asked for a recommendation from the Community Fields Committee, and it should not have represented to anyone that the fee would be $25 an hour.
"That's where the problem is," Holland said. "Two members of the Fields Committee had been [representing] for six months that the fee on the field was going to be $25 [an hour.] Any adoption of school policy requires a vote of the School Committee."
Advocates for some of the organizations, including Milford Youth Lacrosse, have questioned why a fee is necessary at all, because the taxpayers in Milford paid for construction of the new artificial turf field at the high school, That money did not come from the school system's budget.
A fee is needed to recoup maintenance costs and build toward replacement of the field, said Holland and another School Committee member, Mike Walsh, who was interviewed last week.
Although taxpayers paid for construction of the athletic field, Holland said, the maintainance comes from the school system's budget, and the budget has had to be reduced this year by $600,000.
It is not feasible to not charge a fee for groups to use the field, he said.
In a candidate forum last week, Walsh went further, saying of the athletics field: "We're hoping for that to be a revenue-maker for us."
Murray, contacted Tuesday, said he plans to attend the meeting. The Community Fields Committee had representatives of the youth soccer, lacrosse and football leagues on it, Murray said. The leagues were a part of the process, and no one went around misrepresenting anything, he said. "We struck, I think, the magic balance," he said of the $25 hourly fee, which would accumulate some money for maintenance but would be something youth league parents could afford.
"The league can only afford what the league can afford."