New fees for out-of-county youth soccer players are causing hardships for some families.
Fulton County resident Jamy McNabb said his daughters have played soccer with the United Futbol Academy, a soccer organization that uses Forsyth County fields, for years and saw a jump in fees for the fall season.
“The out-of-county fees have always been $65 for the past two years, and we’ve always just paid the fee for out-of-county and not really thought about it until this year when it went from $65 a kid to $300 a kid,” he said.
McNabb said he was told by members of the UFA, which could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, the change was from the county and out of the club’s hands. The figure does not include tuition for UFA.
In February, Forsyth County commissioners unanimously approved new fees for park services for out-of-county residents.
“We’ve had some residents here ask questions about resident versus non-resident usage, mostly in terms of field space and youth athletics,” Parks Director Jim Pryor said at the time. “That prompted our department to do an audit of all programs in 2015 and 2016, looking at everything that we do as far as how many residents use that certain program and how many non-residents use that.”
Pryor said the fees had not been changed since 2013, when non-residents paid 20 percent more than county residents. The new fees go into effect on July 1.
“It was determined recently by the parks board that it needs to be a little higher than that,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of residents paying on bonds. Of course, the SPLOST funds pay for a lot of what we do, and impact fees pay for a lot of what we do.”
As of this fall, the new fees for out-of-county use will be $150 per player per season for sports with booster clubs, $120 for use of recreation centers and double whatever the resident fee is for programs, $150 to rent a picnic pavilion for a day and $300 to rent a community building for a day.
Residents will pay $20 per player per season, $10 for recreation centers with a 50 percent senior discount, $75 for a picnic pavilion and $150 for a community building.
The parks board will look at the fee structure every two years.
McNabb said he lives just across the Fulton County line, and Fowler Park is the closest and best option for his family.
“It’s something that we value and they enjoy and they get a lot out of competitive sports, and if you’re going to do it, do it right; they’re getting the best coaches around. We make that sacrifice,” McNabb said. “To find out three weeks ahead of time that we’re going to go from $130 to $600 just because we live 200 feet outside of the county is tough.”
While he said he is not opposed to paying more for out of county fees, McNabb, a police officer, feels the increase will be significant for many families and said playing in Forsyth leads to his family supporting local businesses.
“We come there, we go out to eat in Forsyth, we go [out for] ice cream, we visit Academy,” he said. “It brings us up there, and we spend a decent amount of money.”