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Watertown Wizards take care of unpaid bills

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The owners of the Watertown Wizards came into City Hall on Friday to pay off the more than $6,000 they owed the city for the past Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season.

City Comptroller James E. Mills said Friday owner Todd Kirkey paid the outstanding bill of $6,011.41. It included $2,950 for a third installment for renting the ball park and fields at the city-owned Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, $2,540 in sign advertisement revenues and $521.41 for installing electric service for a Carvel ice cream machine.

Mr. Kirkey also gave the city an additional $537.75 payment for the concessions the Wizards handled for the Disabled Persons Action Organization’s Journey and Blake Shelton concerts this summer at the fairgrounds. However, the city and the team disagree on $46.05 in sales taxes the team might still owe the city, Mr. Mills said.

Mr. Kirkey said Friday that he planned coming in on Monday to take care of the unpaid bills and was surprised that such a big deal was made about the situation. He wanted to wait until Monday to clear up some discrepancy about payments for non-baseball activities for this year before taking care of the business.

“We certainly had the intention all along to come in on Oct. 1,” he said.

Before the payments were made, Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Erin E. Gardner said she talked to the team owners on numerous occasions about the unpaid bills. The city also sent invoices to the Wizards in a timely manner, she said.

In April 2011, the Watertown City Council learned that the Wizards had accumulated $46,000 in unpaid bills for seasons that went back as far as 2002, although the team was not owned by the current owners.

The unpaid bills prompted a scathing outside audit of the Parks Department that uncovered tens of thousands in uncollected bills by numerous recreation department users over several years. It also led to the revamping of the Parks and Recreation Department and the hiring of a new management team.

When the new team of owners took over last October, they assured the city that those days of unpaid bills were history.

According to the team’s contract with the city, the Wizards should have paid the city on Aug. 1 half of the amount of rent for the baseball park. The team did, however, pay the city the first two installments, one that was due by June 1 and another by July 1.

The advertising bill should have been paid by Aug. 1 and the city should have received payment for the electrical work by Aug. 22, Mr. Mills said.

The financial discrepancies with the team also prompted the city to redo the way it arranges alcohol concessions at the fairgrounds.

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