New player fee proposed as Clay County reconsiders lease agreements with youth sports leagues

County leaders getting pushback over proposal

Clay County leaders are getting pushback over a proposal to help fund parks and recreation programs.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County leaders are getting pushback over a proposal to help fund parks and recreation programs.

Current field leases for youth sports leagues are expiring in Clay County, and a proposal was brought up last week to replace the current structure where leagues pay $1 per lease with a new fee -- $20 per child -- that would go on top of current registration fees most leagues already charge.

Trevor Waters, president of the Keystone Youth Soccer Club, told News4Jax that the proposed per-child fee would be crippling in Keystone Heights, where he says his players come from less affluent families than those in other parts of the county.

“The parents can’t afford it because it’s a rural area. It’s a low-income area,” he said.

Some parents like Logan Gurley were surprised to learn about the proposal.

“I don’t think they should,” Gurley said. “When I played sports at OPAA (Orange Park Athletic Association) when I was a kid, I don’t remember there were fees added onto that.”

County workers still say there need to be improvements to the leases -- not only for budgetary reasons -- but also to have a better handle on whose using county fields.

But this idea looks like it will be sent back to the drawing board after Clay County Commissioner Besty Condon lambasted the proposal in the most recent commission meeting.

“With your current proposal, you are putting on the families of Keystone Heights a 42% amount of their revenue that they have to give to the county just to have their little girls and boys play soccer. And for the baseball, softball, T-ball, football and cheer, it’s 24% of their revenue,” Condon said. “That’s their hard-earned money.”

It’s unclear what county leaders will do and whether the proposed per-player fee will be instituted. The Clay County Board of County Commissioners has tabled this issue until baseball season is over, likely by the end of June. Commissioners are still looking for input from sports leagues and parents until then.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.