Operators of Cheektowaga's youth baseball program are worried that proposed budget cuts in the "Aid to Youth" program will drive up registration costs and make it harder to buy replacement safety gear.
The proposed 2018 town budget calls for cutting funding to the program by 50% - reducing it from its current allocation of $24,000 to $12,000 in 2018.
Dave Camp, president of Cheektowaga Youth Baseball, said approximately 2,000 kids take part in the baseball programs operated by various private non-profit organizations. Camp explained that the "Aid to Youth" program already saw a $6,000 cut this year and he fears it will be completely eliminated in the future.
Cheektowaga Youth Baseball said it and other leagues use the money to buy replacement safety equipment, like helmets and catcher's gear, for the 30+ teams in the town.
Supervisor Diane Benczkowski said the recommendation to reduce the funding came from the executive director of the town's youth and recreation services. It was felt there no way to justify the extra taxpayer money for the private 501(c) groups when the town was looking for ways to cut costs while maintaining funding for its own youth programs like basketball and soccer.
However, Benczkowski said the town is still planning on allocating $12,000 for 2018 and will continue to help maintain the baseball diamonds.
Despite recent enrollment downtrends in little league programs nationwide, the Cheektowaga Youth Baseball program was seeing growth, said Dave Camp.
Camp worries that the lost money will now have to be added into the registration fees, which are currently $60/child, and could force some low income families to decide against signing up.
"I guess the parents themselves will have to explain to the kids why they can't play."
Cheektowaga Youth Baseball is asking concerned parents to attend Tuesday's night town board meeting on October 24th at 7 p.m.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report