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St. Johns County considering raising fees for youth sports

The county commission is looking for ways to offset its costs

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The price St. Johns County parents pay for their kids to play sports could be going up starting this fall.

The county is exploring the possibility of changing its fee structure to keep up with the growing cost of funding youth athletics. No official decisions have been made just yet.

County commissioners were supposed to vote Tuesday on the fee changes, but they shelved that idea in response to feedback from a local athletic organization.

They’ve asked staff to work with community athletics associations and to come back with a different proposal because there is still time before a decision needs to be made.

A county staff member told News4Jax the county is appreciative of the service of all of its youth sport providers and it would like the increase in fees to be done in partnership with them.

Parents currently pay a registration fee and an additional $10 for their child to play sports – from youth soccer to football – if they live in St. Johns County. Out-of-county families pay $15 per player.

The county’s assistant director of parks and recreation said there will be a fee increase to help offset the county budget, but exactly how much the cost could change still remains to be seen.

Under the proposal that was set to be considered Tuesday, parents would have been charged $20 per player for recreational teams. Competitive or travel teams would pay the same $20 player fee, plus an additional hourly field rental fee ranging from $20-$25.

Gary Easom, president of the Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Athletic Association, said the association has no problem supporting the county. Yet there are lingering questions about the extra fees.

“Is it going to be extra fees for practices per hour on the field?” Easom wondered. “Is it just for games? Is it for clinics? Does it include tournaments? There’s just a lot of unanswered questions.”

Easom doesn’t reckon the fee change would be a deal-breaker for most families. But for parents who are concerned, he said, there are scholarships available.

“We will find a way for your child to play,” he said. “That is how dedicated our organization is to youth sports."

Over the next few weeks and months, county staff will continue having discussions with local partners before bringing a new proposal to the board. The county says it wants to make sure fees don’t stop families from participating in youth sports. ​

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.