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The drama between the city of Wetumpka and a local baseball league is not over yet, particularly after the city made bold accusations.

As of last week, it seemed like the tension had died down between the city of Wetumpka and the Wetumpka Youth Baseball & Softball League (WYBSL).

The drama began after the city shut down the local sports complex on the eve of a large tournament in which the WYBSL was participating.

The city laid out a list of demands from WYBSL involving financial disclosures and access to league funds.

An emergency meeting was held between the city and league officials on Sunday, April 24, with hundreds protesting outside. After the meeting, it appeared that the two parties had mediated an agreement and agreed to let future games continue as scheduled.

The drama was rekindled after the city released a public statement claiming that the non-profit WYBSL was using the sports complex to receive financial gain.

"The City became aware that the Wetumpka Youth Baseball & Softball League was subleasing the fields to a for-profit business group without the City's knowledge or permission," the city stated. "In response, the City requested financial disclosures from the League to assess the situation and to address the legality of the League's conduct.

"The City provides the Baseball and Softball Complex for use by the League so that the youth in Wetumpka have a venue to play ball. The city maintains the ballfields and pays all the utility expenses at a cost of approximately $350,000.00 per year. The volunteers who operate the League are to operate under City guidelines. At a meeting last Sunday, the League assured City Officials and the City Attorney that no money was being paid to a for-profit entity, period. On Monday, the League advised the City Attorney that this representation was untrue. At the Sunday meeting, the League also assured City Officials that it would provide certain agreed-upon financial records by the end of the day on the following Monday. Most of those records have not yet been provided."

The WYBSL subsequently released a statement vehemently denying the city's accusations and publicly released its financial documents to dispute their claims.

"[In the Sunday meeting] the Parties agreed that the City of Wetumpka officials would not publicly speak about this situation any further and asked us not to as well until we had a signed agreement by May 12th," the WYBSL statement read. "We agreed to not make any statements publicly until this was resolved because we wanted these kids to be able to finish out their season and play ball.

"WYBSL Board Members are at a loss for the ill-treatment they are receiving by City of Wetumpka's officials, and the untruthful statements in the [city's] Release.

"We are not subleasing the fields. We are participating with seven other local cities, all of which participate in the same baseball region of [the United States Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA] as we are, in a mid-season League ball Regional tournament. We scheduled this tournament with the contact listed on the City of Wetumpka's website as the point of contact for scheduling the Wetumpka Sports Complex and explained in detail the process of this tournament, which is the same way that we have held tournaments in the past for mid-season tournaments and for All-Stars."

The USSSA is a sanctioning body under which the WYBSL operates.

The city claims that the USSSA is a for-profit entity and that the WYBSL was violating the state law by profiting from the use of public property.

WYBSL is a non-profit organization, only receiving income through fundraisers, sponsors, concessions, gate fees and registration fees.

According to financial documents released by the league, in 2021 the WYBSL had over $282,000 in operating expenses. Of those expenses, payments to All-Star organizations and sanctioning bodies totaled $5,196.46.

"During the meeting on Sunday afternoon, City Officials asked us if USSSA was a non-profit or for-profit entity. Because this has never been a prior concern, we informed them that we were unsure of the correct answer to their question.

"…This statement in the Release leads everyone to believe we were dishonest with the City and that is NOT TRUE.

"…At the time of this Response, we as a Board have done our due diligence and our research has found that the USSSA is INDEED a non-profit organization."

As of now, the city is saying it will allow scheduled games to take place at the sports complex, but they will be reviewing WYBSL's future operations after this season is completed.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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