TAMWORTH sporting groups have hit out at a sudden increase to fees at council-owned facilities which they claim will cripple their sports and slug the local economy.
At Tamworth Regional Council's ordinary meeting at the end of June, the councillors waved through a range of Sports Dome fee increases.
The council endorsed a 12.5 per cent increase to the hourly rate for training on indoor courts which will herald the "end of basketball as we know it in Tamworth", the sport's president said.
Outdoor court hire rates were raised by more than 7 per cent, inside court hire charges for weekday (10 per cent) and weekend use (8.33 per cent) were also hiked.
Tamworth basketball and netball executives have said they were only notified about the fee increases last week following the council decision.
Basketball association president Jason Darcy painted a dire picture of the sport's future in Tamworth in light of the price hike.
He said Basketball NSW would pull the plug on events in the city.
"It's unfeasible for Basketball NSW to hold events here for the future because of those fees," he said.
"This will cripple the sport in Tamworth.
"It'll affect the whole game in Tamworth and the economy."
He also said it would reduce accessibility to the sport for families who could already be struggling to pay the fees.
Tamworth netball secretary Lisa Fox said court hire fees had increased in the past, but this year's inflation was the biggest in memory.
She said player costs would have to go up next year, but the association was always working to keep expenses down to ensure everyone could play.
Costs for most sporting groups in town were increased with this year's approved set of fees and charges.
Most turf-based sports will see a 2.5 per cent rise to their season and field preparation bills.
A spokesperson said council hadn't raised fees for a few years and there had been a major extension at the facility.
"We have chosen to hold off on yearly increases so that fees can be rounded to the nearest $5 therefore remaining unchanged for a few years," they said.
"Secondly, the council has recently completed a major extension of the Sports Dome which has added a new indoor court.
"Council needs to ensure that it is effectively managing this asset so that renewal works into the future are adequately funded.
"The above two issues combined have resulted in increases to costs and subsequent fees."
The council spokesperson did concede it would review how future fee increases would be communicated to affected groups.
"With regard to notification of the fee increase, Sports Dome sporting groups had the opportunity to provide feedback on the fee increase as part of the AOP community consultation and public exhibition," they said.
"While no direct discussions were held, council is committed to being open and transparent and will review how this information is communicated for the future."