Citizens play hardball with softball contract

Several members of the community have determined that the contract between Chesterfield and Softball Nation has not been handled properly. Some members of the softball adult leagues, church leagues and two contract specialists contend that Softball Nation, under the leadership of David “Butch” Tiller, did not provide the services written in the contract. But Parks and Rec had not supervised the performance of the contract either.

In 2010, Mike Golden, director of Parks and Rec, said that Chesterfield County was facing severe financial hardship and his department was told they had to cut back, which would include eliminating adult sports. Parks and Rec laid off as many as nine full- and part-time employees and were unable to maintain the softball fields.

It was suggested Parks and Rec engage in a contract to manage the adult program for them and hired Mr. Tiller’s company for $65,000 a year to maintain and service the adult leagues and fields. Two other bids came in at just over $63,000.

Brenda Stewart and Jean Lohr examined the contract and found a number of inconsistencies. Tiller was not maintaining the field as he agreed to, but the county was not supervising Tiller as they, admittedly, should have been.

According to information collected by Ms. Stewart through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), there was no document that identified any staff member who was assigned the responsibility of monitoring the lease agreement. “Contract administration is essential and critical to  proper stewardship of taxpayers’ money,” she wrote in a memorandum to PRAC (Parks and Rec Advisory Committee) and the Parks and Rec Department.

In Stewart’s memorandum, she itemizes the shortcomings of the contract with Softball Nation and Mr. Tiller:

The contract with Tiller was not signed until 10 months after Tiller took over the softball program and fields, which allowed him to test out how the arrangement would pan out before signing an official lease.

No record exists in county files concerning how much money Softball Nation profited from the operation of the leagues and fields.

All payments to Chesterfield for the lease were not required until the end of each year, and the fees due for non-residents for 2010 are not recorded, while fees for 2011 and 2013 were not received until the day before the Board of Supervisors public hearing, according to Stewart’s memoranda.

A new lease, which was set at $45,000 per year has options for up to 10 years with no specific improvements to fields, no maintenance clause, no revenue sharing provisions, no limitations for facility use for outside teams, no limitations or guidelines for fees or a guarantee of use by Chesterfield citizens and inflation indexing. The new lease also has no provisions for noncompliance with the lease.

In January, Dominion Virginia Power submitted an electric bill of $2,700 for field lights, with the county’s name on it, over to collection for non-payment. Billing for water and sewer, $3,751.08, was not charged to Tiller until June 2013, which included amounts from 2010.

The PRAC members decided that the responsibility for the contract should be passed on to the Board of Supervisors (BOS).

During the last meeting of the BOS, the new contract, sans corrections, was distributed among board members. Midlothian District Supervisor, Dan Gecker, said he didn’t have time to read the contract while the meeting was in session and asked that the board defer a contract decision until the meeting on August 28. He asked the Director of Parks and Rec, Mike Golden, if the approval of the contract was time-sensitive, and if the signing could wait. Consideration of the contract was deferred until this month’s meeting.

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