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Recreation: County raises fees for most sports to $25

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County’s $3 fees for youth league sports offered through the county’s recreation department are a thing of the past.

County Council started looking at raising the registration fee last summer and agreed to a new set of fees this week. When kids start registering for fall sports this summer, the cost will be $25 for most sports. Discounted rates will be provided for low-income families based on the same criteria schools use to determine how much students pay for school lunches.

The new $25 fee applies to soccer, football, basketball, baseball and softball. Lower fees will be charged for programs that cost less to run. Registration fees are $20 for cheerleading and $10 for flag football.

Children who qualify for reduced-price school lunch will pay half the regular program fee. Those who receive free lunch will pay one-third the regular fee.

In extreme cases where a family can’t afford even that, scholarships will be provided to ensure every child gets a chance to participate, said Beth Goodale, county recreation director.

In addition to the fee changes, the county’s policy on outfitting rec league players will change. All participants will get a T-shirt with registration to be worn under their jerseys. Players can keep the T-shirts but jerseys will now be returned to the county for reuse the following year. Pom-poms will also be returned to the county.

Players who want to keep that equipment will have the option of purchasing it when the season ends.

Combined, the changes to the sports programs would lower the amount the county contributes to the program from $109,628 to an estimated $35,000. That number is based on participation numbers from last year and assuming a 33 percent ratio of players in each price bracket.

The new fees were selected taking into consideration a variety of factors, including fees charged in neighboring counties and input from people involved in Georgetown County’s rec league sports. Of coaches, parents and recreation commission members who participated in a recent survey on fees, 39 percent said fees should be set at $15. The next highest percentage, 27 percent called for $25 fees.

Council Member Bob Anderson, who serves on council’s health education and leisure committee, asked Goodale how high fees would have to be raised for the county’s funding of the program to be cut to $25,000. It would increase the fees by a few more dollars over what was proposed, she said.

Anderson liked that idea, but other members of the committee had concerns about adding on to what would already be a significant jump in price.

“When you look at the economy and the number of people who are not working and the salaries people are making ... how many people will say I can’t afford that?” wondered Lillie Jean Johnson, who chairs the committee.

The committee reviewed staff’s recommendations on new fees before they were presented to the entire council.

Council Chairman Johnny Morant suggested approving the fees as proposed and waiting until “things get better and folks are in a better situation financially” to consider further increases.

Council agreed to County Administrator Sel Hemingway’s suggestion of allowing a full year of sports programming to pass under the new rates before reviewing the fees again, as to better gauge the effects of the changes approved this week. That puts the earliest review at spring of next year.

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