Little League Baseball and Softball in West Windsor Plainsboro and Cranbury NJ

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WWLL Board Meeting.
October 14, 2008
Present: Executive Board: Chris Thornton, Ellen Vogt, Jackie Stein, Kevin Chapman, Shawn Panson, Ron Russell,. Absent: Andy Lupo,
Others: Ed O’Connor, Andrew Klein, Bill Kramer, Nick Schiera, Steve Lichtenstein, Suresh Jaswal; Larry Charlip.
Minutes. Approved minutes of September board meeting.
Treasurer’s Report. Ed O’Connor
            Financials – distributed and explained by Ed O’Connor. (Last presentation as Treasurer) League had a good cash balance at the end of last year, and used some cash for capital improvements (Ward field work, indoor facility work, paving parking lot, etc.). Came out with lower cash balance at the end of this year, but still in a positive position. Registration fees were lower last year, and fewer total children, so income from registration was down. Spent more on uniforms this year. Larger bank fees. Significant expense for additional equipment. Net income was negative for 2007-08 by $82,000, but that was expected. Clinic fees were lower because of a conscious effort to lower fees and make the clinics more accessible. New card system for indoor cards will clean up that problem and allow additional indoor card revenue. Greater fundraising this year (due to web site option vie ecommerce) as well as more raffle revenue. Concession stand profit was up significantly, which includes the buy-out option for volunteers. Significantly higher expense this year for umpires (more youth umps working more games, plus $50 bonus payments). Better interest on money via PNC bank than last year. Expect to have extra uniforms, shirts, etc. for this year, so the cost should go down next year. Increase in charter and insurance expenses via Little League Intl. Utility bills were up this year also. 
            Fundraising was actually a negative – the league lost money on fundraising. Discussion about whether to kill the raffle. Consensus is to recommend elimination of the annual raffle if the revenue and cost numbers are accuragte. Motion approved without objection. Matter will be reviewed by Andy to confirm financial numbers before final decision.
            (additional details provided regarding expense line items)
            Discussion of costs for maintaining the indoor facility, including repairs for the Iron Mike machines. Speculation about what causes the Iron Mikes to get so much use and abuse. Discussion of increasing the fees for outside teams (including high school) to use the facility in order to offset maintenance fees. Also discussion of usage by high school kids without appropriate supervision, concerns about insurance, liability, etc. Options include excluding high school teams or others from the facility without specific adult supervision (e.g., Bill Bethea). Suggest additional discussion about fees for outside use of indoor facility.
            Ed estimates that about $60K of the net loss of $82K was attributable to one-time or unusual fees that we don’t expect for this year. One area to be concerned about for this year is expense for uniforms and equipment. Need to reign in the expenses for this year. Everything from cutting back on coach’s shirts and new equipment purchases. Last year we made a large bulk purchase of balls, which was an expense on last year’s budget, but which will help us reduce costs in ’09.
            Net end of year balances show $57K positive cash position at the end of the year, compared to $141K at the end of 2007. So, additional $60K spent in 2008 came from existing cash holdings and was reinvested in the LL.
            Expect one significant expense going forward (laying new floor for indoor). League needs to manage ongoing expenses this year.
            (discussion about imposing a small fee for winter clinics for this year so that kids have a better attendance rate this year, and small fees will offset expense.)
            Discussion about raising buy-out for concession stand to $50 from current $30. This will partly increase revenue (currently it is a wash with the cost of hiring high school help) and will encourage volunteers to work rather than pay. Motion accepted without objection.
            Nick inquired about the numbers regarding umpires from ’07 to ’08. Chris T pointed out that the comparison can’t be made because last year we didn’t audit the payments and break them out from concessions. We had some similar problems this year, but the numbers for ’08 look better.
            Registration Fees. Discussion about keeping flat or raising registration fees for this year. By keeping fees flat, but cutting out costs for raffle, then league would net additional money net of costs of raffle. Discussion of raising or not the volunteer bond, where the current system for repayment via credit card credit has made the program much more efficient. Ellen suggests keeping basic fee flat, after killing the raffle. Volunteer bond will be raised to $100 per child, max. $200 (refunded for more than 2 children).
            Ed and Shawn Panson (incoming Treasurer) will get together to discuss the filing of the league’s tax returns and how to get a late penalty abated.
Board Positions
            Open positions – would like to solicit volunteers. Will post availability on-line after this meeting.  All board members are encouraged to directly solicit others to volunteer to help with the league. Many, many jobs need to be done and anyone who wants to assist the league is welcome and appreciated.
Player Agent. Jackie Stein noted that the league should be wary of players (parents) who request not to be placed on a team with another boy. Where there are legitimate reasons for a player (parent) to request not to be place on a team with a particular manager, the Player Agent will evaluation the situation and may deem it appropriate to prohibit that player from being drafted by the manager. The league officers and coordinators will discuss whether it is best to advise the manager in question that he may not draft a particular player in advance of the draft, or rather wait and see if the manager attempts to draft the player and only then advise the manager that he may not pick that player. This discussion to continue between Chris Thornton and Jackie Stein.
            Jackie will be meeting with former player agent Holly Shemitz to transfer documents and information. Jackie will attempt to put together some analytics on the data for 2008 and 2007 players.
Volunteer Bonds
            Motion approved to increase bond to $100 per student, max. $200.
            Off season. Fall ball is going fine. Pitching clinics start Thursday night. Will have winter clinics coming on. Will need Tuesday’s 4-7 p.m. for softball pitching clinic.
            Coordinators are working on next season. May have as many as 10 teams for majors. Jackie makes the point that 3rd graders should not be pushed up to Minors so that 5th graders would be playing at the same level as 3rd graders. Don’t think that such an age disparity should be allowed.
            Discussion about need for 9-year-olds in Minors. (repeat discussion concerning the benefits of having better 9-year-olds playing AAA to improve the quality of play at AAA level.) Noted that 9-year-olds are allowed to move up to Minors only to the extent that a certain number of 9’s are needed in order to fill out the teams in Minors. The league would not move up more than eleven 9’s to add an additional team in minors, but would move up between 1 and 11 9’s in order to fill out the rosters of the Minors teams that are mainly filled by boys 10-11.
            Jackie raised the issue of 9-year-olds who are in third grade possibly being not allowed to play up. Chris T advised that the 9-year-olds who were allowed to play minors last year significantly enhanced those teams and often were among the top 1 or 2 players on those minors teams. Regardless of grade level, players with that skill level are not a problem.
            Regular season team selection also needs some more specific guidelines concerning the availability of “playing up” at each age level. (Transparency of selection process.)
            Chris reports that there is a 25% chance that Majors in 2009 will have 8 or 10 teams, and a 50% chance that we will have 9 teams.
            Discussion about whether the league should have written guidelines reflecting the rules for players who “play up” to get drafted – e.g., must be in the top 6 or 9 players drafted for each team.
All-Star Selection
            Suggestion to draft a set of league-wide guidelines for all-star selection, which will govern all-star teams at all levels. Kevin has drafted one set of guidelines. Suggestion is to circulate multiple proposals and try to get a consensus on the Board. (Kevin will circulate draft to Shawn). Chris T described the selection process for ages 9-11 and that Board determined that at ages 7 and 8 it made more sense to keep the ages together. Shawn will spearhead a subcommittee to look into drafting guidelines for this issue going forward.
Post-season guidelines should include the issue of whether players who take vacation during all-stars will be allowed to play. Includes whether league will have a rule that a player who takes an unauthorized vacation during all-stars will be barred from future all-stars or from next season’s team. Need to require kids to disclose. Penalty for failing to disclose. Absences during all stars will be taken into consideration in team selection. 
Player Development
            Larry C – clinics are currently posted on line and public can now register. There will be an email blast coming out soon to advertise the availability for the clinics. First clinics will start in about two weeks. Sessions will be 4-week sessions. Ellen and Larry will coordinate the schedule. Effort will be made to track attendance.
Web Site
            Ellen has handouts regarding the site navigation. Andrew Klein demonstrates site navigation. (Much discussion about relative value of Demosphere web site vs. other options. Now is the time to start thinking about alternatives for next year, including finding a web site that will handle baseball stats and umpire assignments.) Will need to have calendar entries on the web site so that the public can see the upcoming events and dates.
            (Question about why Wacovia bank has an ad on the home page of the web site. They have not paid anything for it and do not have other league sponsorships, so we should take that down.)
            There will be email links for all the board positions so that users can send emails and reach the proper coordinators.
Indoor Facility
            (discussed above in Financials)
Fall Ball
            Ongoing. Looking fine.   Have been able to get youth umpires for games and they have worked out well.
            In Financial. No new projects.
            Managers with bags to return can come to clean-up day on November 9th during clean-up day.
Comments/Additional Issues
            Awards Day – suggestion (again) to split baseball and softball in order to speed up the process and keep everyone’s interest. Discussion at next meeting.
Note that end-of-season clean-up day is November 9 from 1 to 3 p.m.
End [9:50]