A York City man who applied for a special-event permit to host an outdoor basketball tournament in June said he can't afford to pay what the city says he would owe for police coverage at the event -- $6,300.
That's on top of the $6,300 the city says Wayne Scott owes for last year's Trey and Boo Classic, a free two-day tournament for adults organized in memory of homicide victims Ca-trell "Trey" McCanic and Ricardo "Boo" Banks.
The two were standout basketball players at William Penn Senior High School.
Scott said he went to City Hall on Tuesday to get a special-event permit. He paid $130 -- $65 for each of two days -- and walked out with a receipt.
Then, Scott said, he heard from a worker in the city's public works department who said Scott would need to pay nearly $13,000 for the cost of police presence at this year's and last year's tournaments.
That's far more, Scott said, than he could afford.
Scott said he has no problem with a police presence at the tournament. In fact, he said, he appreciates the extra security.
"My problem is they're basically going to charge me for doing their job," Scott said. "This is a good cause. Don't charge people."
Past tournaments Scott said the city waived the fee for police coverage at the first basketball tournament in 2011.
Then, last year, he said he was told he'd have to pay. Scott said he tried to negotiate with the city about the cost. He said he never agreed to pay $6,300.
"But they didn't stop me from having it," Scott said.
Scott said he did not hear again from the city until a letter arrived a few weeks ago informing him that $6,300 was due by March 1 as payment for police coverage at the 2012 tournament.
Mayor's response: Mayor Kim Bracey said she stands by the city's policy to charge for police presence at special events like the basketball tournament, parades and street fairs. The city, she said, calculates a fee based on the need to staff the event without compromising public safety elsewhere.
"We want to make sure we're able to respond to other citizens' calls as we're also assisting events," Bracey said. "We need to make sure we have coverage for the rest of the city."
As for the basketball tournament, the mayor said the city calculated the fee based on "real numbers" from previous years.
Police, she said, must also consider the potential for emotional outbursts at an event held in honor of homicide victims -- a concern, Bracey said, the event's organizers raised before the first Trey and Boo Classic.
"For every event, we look at everything that's involved," Bracey said. "I don't think we're the only ones that would be concerned about something."
Bracey said she realizes $6,300 could be cost-prohibitive for the tournament. She said she plans to meet with Scott soon to brainstorm possible solutions.
"I want to sit down and talk with him and see what other avenues we can explore. This is an event that the community has embraced," Bracey said. "Maybe there's other mechanisms in place to try to assist with this."
The ACLU: Scott said he's requested help from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mary Catherine Roper, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said her office is investigating Scott's complaint. She declined to comment on his specific issue.
Roper said her office frequently hears from people across the state with this type of complaint. She said case law has established a legal precedent for situations like York's.
"When somebody asks for a permit to do something that requires police presence, then it's not unconstitutional for the city to ask someone to reimburse them," Roper said. "But there are two caveats to that."
First, the event "has to actually necessitate the police presence" -- something like a parade or festival that requires the closing of streets and redirecting traffic, Roper said.
Second, the fee cannot be "prohibitive," she said.
"The First Amendment is there so everybody gets to use the public space, including poor people," Roper said. "You can just never charge a fee that essentially prohibits people who aren't rich from using public spaces."
Scott said this would be the third year for the family-friendly tournament held at Penn Park. The event, which lasts about eight hours each of the two days, has drawn more than 400 people in the past, he said.
Scott said there's never been a problem at past tournaments -- "not even an argument," he said.
The event is not a fundraiser but is organized through Scott's nonprofit Helping Offer Options & Direction (HOOD). The group has also held anti-violence "Stop the Beef" rallies and raises funds to help children participate in local sports programs.
Scott said he grew up watching Banks, his cousin, and McCanic play basketball.
Ca-trell "Trey" McCanic, a basketball star at York High in the late 1990s, was stabbed to death in 2002 at the age of 23.
McCanic was the father of two children, worked as a telephone programmer for C-Works in Emigsville, and was engaged to be married when he bled to death at Edison and Pattison streets, not far from his home.
His best friend, Billy D. Williams, pleaded no contest in 2004 to a third-degree murder charge.
Ricardo Banks, a 2006 graduate William Penn Senior High School and a versatile guard on the school's basketball team, was killed in 2007 at the age of 19. He was fatally shot near the intersection of Cottage Hill Road and Smith Street.
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.