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Apopka City Council decides on youth sports fees



The Apopka City Council voted 3-2 yesterday to approve a new recreational progressive fee structure that has been described by City Council members, and City of Apopka staff as fair and equitable for all sports.

Others in the youth sports community do not agree.

“I just believe there is much better use of everyone’s time versus looking for a socialistic solution to make one group happy because of a conflict over field access,” said Ed Walls, President of The Apopka Youth Sports Association. “We have partnered and worked very hard for over 30 years in this community to have a positive impact on the youth and hope you reward our value to this community by omitting fees. Those of us on this side of the room are business owners, blue and white collar employees with families that face similar challenges as each of you every day and understand that this is politically motivated and not a cost issue. I have not heard that the city is struggling to support the recreation programs for its youth, but the contrary with a recreation program that generates approximately $600,000 in revenue annually to the General Fund, in addition to the $2 million allocated by the city in its $98 million dollar budget.”

In the split decision, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Commissioners Kyle Becker and Diane Velazquez voted in favor of the changed fee schedule, while Commissioners Doug Bankson and Billie Dean voted against.

Under the new plan, the city will bill The Apopka Pop Warner Football League $500 the first year. Apopka Little League Baseball will pay $50 per team and $250 for office rental during its next season. The fees will increase each year, until they reach what recreation director David Burgoon and city staff believes will be 30-percent of the city's field-maintenance costs. However, the city will review the rates annually.

Commissioner Dean wants to raise taxes to cover the costs and help out families unable to afford fees.1801227_10208545555257554_117461183184509756_o

“I look forward to us as a council working to provide more recreational opportunities for the youth, the students and the community. But we cannot do this without raising taxes. We have one of the lowest tax bases in Central Florida. We must look seriously at raising the millage. We as a council must look seriously at how we keep the recreational fees free so that families with four or five kids that cannot afford the fees can still play in youth sports. By raising the taxes we can help these families.”

Commissioner Velazquez wanted to stick with the original agreement, and start small.

“The fee schedule that everyone agreed on was $500. At $500 a year I don’t think that will break anyone. But it will allow us to start. I agree with the fee schedule as it stands for the first year. We can always come back and re-evaluate it, but we have to start somewhere.”

Mayor Kilsheimer stresses the equity of this proposal, and looked to the future of Apopka.

“The issue today is about equity. Some leagues are paying fees and others are paying nothing. That is the issue that needs to be addressed. As part of our ongoing effort to set the city up for success, how can we set up Apopka for success in the future? Everyone has to pay something. There’s not a free lunch.”

Commissioner Bankson pushed back, and believed this was a matter best decided during budget discussions.

“I think this goes back to my initial concern that we were jumping on this before the initial budgeting process. If we did it during the budgeting process, we might be able to look at this and say this is valuable to Apopka. We need to re-adjust our budget…or folks the bottom line is we have to raise taxes to support it. We either call it a loss or we call it something that we want to afford.”

Commissioner Becker pointed to previous years of losses in the recreation department, and resolved it could not continue.

“I support the idea charging everyone equally. Football and baseball Leagues have always been our adopted sports, but what do you say to a kid in soccer, or lacrosse? We’re operating at a very steep loss every year. We can’t afford to operate at such a loss. I would love to make it free for everyone, but it’s just not fiscally viable.”


Apopka City Council, Youth Sports


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