Minor hockey's governing body in eastern Ontario has announced it's running a deficit of more than $200,000, and some associations and parents are upset that it wants to raise player fees while spending money on a new office.
Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) called a meeting in November to announce it's running a deficit of $221,574 for the 2013-2014 season, a shortfall of nearly one third of its budget.
HEO's revenue is $524,026 and its expenses sat at $745,600.
Daniel Danis, president of the Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association, says he's working with four other presidents in central Ottawa, as well as parents, to fight what he calls "mismanagement and misspending" by HEO.
"I just think the levels of governance — it's out of control. We're worse than the government. It's terrible," Danis says. "Hockey Canada should not be accepting that these guys are running a department underneath them with mismanagement like this."
Budget for new office, furniture raises concerns
The budget's expenses include $132,400 for marketing, including money HEO gives back to its teams from its Dodge Caravan Kids program.
It also includes $80,000 for 20 board members and five employees to travel to meetings in and out of town. The $80,000 covered fuel costs, meals and flights.
HEO's salaries for its five full-time staff members total $306,000. Its office operations spending came out to $120,500, including rent, photocopying and supplies.
- Click here to read HEO's budget presentation.
- Click here to read the Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association's open letter to Hockey Canada.
But what's upsetting some parents and association presidents is the bill for a new office.
HEO is moving out of its current office at 1247 Kilborn Pl., owned by the Archdiocese of Ottawa, into a building that's under construction at the Potvin Arena in Gloucester.
The organization is paying more than $260,000 for the new space and has budgeted $100,000 for the move, which includes some new furniture. However, close to $200,000 of the construction of the new office is covered by funding they secured from the World Junior's Legacy Fund in 2009.
"Why can't they use the office stuff that they have now?" says Jennifer Lortie, who has three children who play for the Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association. "It disgusts me to know that money is being spent on stuff that I don't think it needs to be spent on."
HEO wants fees raised from $3.60 to $14
To tackle the deficit, HEO has proposed to raise fee charges to each association it governs from $3.60 per player, per year to $14 per player, per year.
The change would take effect in time for the 2014-2015 season.
Ron Thompson, president of HEO, says the body should have hiked fees years ago but was under too much pressure from the associations it governs to keep fees low. He also says the organization's money is being managed well.
"We have an outside financial auditor who comes in and looks at our books, looks at every line item. They are in there for at least two weeks of the year going over everything that we're doing. And they present a financial document at the AGM to the membership, and from that we strike a budget and go forward," Thompson says.
"Sometimes we don't do a good job of explaining what we do and how we do it, and for that, I guess we have to challenge ourselves to do a better job at that."
The not-for-profit organization had a deficit of $74,000 in 2012, which it paid off using its reserve fund, he says. That fund is now too low to be drawn on.
Thompson says the only choice is to raise fees.
HEO has one of the lowest fees in the country. Hockey BC charges $41 per player, per year, Hockey Alberta charges $35, and Hockey Saskatchewan charges $40.
But Danis isn't swayed.
'It's their own fault,' association president says
"It's their own fault. They should have talked to us beforehand and gotten the word out beforehand. You don't wait five years and send the invoice. That's not acceptable. ... They shouldn't be on this board if they're that incompetent," he said.
Danis and four other association presidents have sent a letter to more than 3,500 of their members, asking parents to call on Hockey Canada for more transparency and oversight.
Hockey Canada's privacy officer, Glen McCurdie, says it's not normal for its branches to run a deficit, and that there isn't much oversight from Hockey Canada.
HEO is ultimately accountable to its members, but Hockey Canada does have the ability to audit its branches if the board determines there is a significant reason to get involved.
Next month, the HEO's finance committee will be going through the budget line by line to see what, if any, changes need to be made.