CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) - Should people have to pay to use a public park? That's the debate right now in southeastern New Mexico after one football coach started charging spectators at his games.
City officials say they had no idea it was going on until they received an anonymous letter and now they are investigating.
A letter sent to Clovis city officials accuses Red Zone Elite Football Director Mike Muscato of taking advantage of Clovis families by charging them to attend games in a public park, a park they as taxpayers pay for.
It's stirring up a lot of questions around the community.
"Whoever it was seemed to be a little upset because it was the only sport that was being charged to watch," said Clovis City Commissioner Chris Bryant.
The whistleblower states charging people to attend a youth football game on a city owned field is both shameful and illegal, but according to city attorney David Richards charging people to watch sporting events on city property is legal.
Which is why Muscato says he can't believe the controversy $1 is causing.
"If somebody wants to know something come ask me," said Red Zone Elite Football Director Mike Muscato. "They don't have to write anonymous letters to make false judgements about me that aren't true and that's disheartening when that comes in especially with all the work you put in."
Muscato says he charges a $1 game entry fee to help cover the unexpected expenses that result from running the football league.
"It's a very expensive sport. This sport requires a lot of equipment to protect the kids and the equipment has to be good," said Muscato. "It has to be up to date. It has to be taken care of."
Marylynda Gradley has two sons in the league.
"We are suppose to be helping our kids, wanting them to succeed. A dollar I don't think is asking a lot," Gradley said.
She says she personally doesn't have a problem with it.
"If you just take the time to talk to him and take the time to come out and watch a couple games. You're going to see he's the biggest fan out there," she said.
But the anonymous letter is prompting city commissioners to take a closer look at the situation and at Muscato's financial records.
"Then we will have something to show that this money is being utilized correctly not being quote on quote beyond the program expenses," said Bryant.
City officials say they are planning to review Muscato's financial records sometime next week and will then decide what steps to take from there.
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