Polk approves increasing recreation sports fees

Published 10:00 pm Friday, July 21, 2017

COLUMBUS -The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved an increase in fees for its recreation department for soccer, basketball and volleyball.

The increase will be $5 more per child, from $35 to $40. The $35 fee has been in place for the past seven years.

Fees for baseball and softball will remain at $70 per child.

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Commissioners met Monday, July 17 and heard from recreation director Jerry Stensland. Stensland said one of the driving forces behind the increase is that Harmon Field is going up on their fees to use the soccer fields.

Stensland said the charge to Polk County from Harmon Field will increase to $10 per child to use the fields. The previous rate was $3 per child for children who have a Tryon zip code and $5 for all other children.

Stensland said the fee increase was brought before the Polk County Recreation Advisory Board, which decided it is time to increase the fees.

Stensland said the recreation department is also moving towards professional booking for referees. He said the department will likely move to the professional booking for soccer referees and already does that for basketball and baseball/softball. The county has to bring in referees from other counties for basketball and baseball/softball games.

The recreation department is estimating the increase in fees will generate an additional $5,750, with $3,250 extra coming from soccer, $1,300 extra coming from volleyball and $1,200 extra coming from basketball. The recreation department does soccer twice a year, both in the fall and in the spring.

The Harmon Field fees are estimated to cost the recreation department an additional $4,000 per year, according to recreation department estimates and additional referee and booking services are estimated at an additional $3,000 per year for a total of $7,000 in annual additional fees.

Commissioner chair Tommy Melton asked how many children from Polk County participate in recreation sports and how many are from outside the county.

Stensland said approximately 85 percent of the children live in Polk County with some others from the Landrum, Campobello and Inman areas in South Carolina.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said the county’s rate to use Harmon Field has been the same for a number of years.

“Things are getting more expensive for them,” Pittman said.

Commissioner Myron Yoder said even looking at other sports programs in Polk County, $40 is not very expensive compared to what others are charging for sports.

Stensland said the increase in fees is not covering employee time or insurance. The sign up fees only pay for uniforms, the referees and field fees, he said.

Pittman said the increase reflects an actual cost to the county by another entity.

Registration for the 2017 fall soccer season just opened at the Polk County Recreation Department. Leagues are open for soccer players age 4-18. The fee will be $40 per player and the deadline to sign up is Friday, Aug. 11.