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SPORTS AND OUTDOORS

June 19th, 2014

Village renews contract to operate youth soccer program

Village Council members reiterated a stance last month that local youth sports programs should take every opportunity to lower the fees they charge, noting parents often find themselves strapped by the cost of having several children playing several sports each.
The discussion came up Tuesday, May 27, in relation to a proposed one-year extension for the Key Biscayne Soccer Club to keep running local intramural and travel soccer programs. Council members agreed to the deal, but in doing so urged the KBSC – and other youth sports providers – to always look for ways to lower registration fees.
Council member Mayra Pena Lindsay brought up the issue, noting local leaders last year directed the girls’ volleyball program to use unspent donation money to lower registration fees rather than provide skills clinics, end-of-the-year parties, T-shirts, etc., as program directors had proposed.
“We had volleyball decrease their fees because they had sponsorship money,” Pena Lindsay said. “Part of my issue is being consistent and being even-handed.”
Council member Michael Kelly, who had pushed for the volleyball fee reduction, agreed.
Noting the soccer program was rolling over $12,000 from the previous year’s budget – which the KBSC’s Jackie Kellogg said was slated to go toward uniform purchases – Kelly said, “Whatever little increment can be used to reduce the fees for next year, we ought to do it.”
Kellogg told the Council her program’s fees are already very reasonable – they compare well to those of other South Florida clubs, and the KBSC actually lowered fees when it took over from another vendor four years ago and hasn’t raised them since.
A four-month intramural program costs $275, a six-month competitive travel season costs $550 and a mini travel season is $350, Kellogg reported.
She added, “In all the surveys that have come out, no one has complained about the price” – in fact, parents say they’ll pay more if the program can become more competitive: “There is demand from the parents to increase the practice times and days to become more competitive.”
But Kelly said the issue can’t be looked at just from a soccer perspective.
“If you’ve got kids in three or four sports, those fees add up. It’s a lot of money,” he said, adding residents also pay high taxes that support the Parks and Recreation Department, which provides administrative aid to youth sports. “Anything we can do to reduce the burden, we should do.”
Council members didn’t take any action on fee reduction for the soccer program, though they did secure a promise from Kellogg that her group will do everything possible not to raise costs.
Local leaders also praised the program.
“I think you’re doing a great, great job,” Kelly said; Pena Lindsay agreed, “You guys are doing a great job, and people are very happy.”
The KBSC, a group founded by local residents, operates soccer programs for local kids ages 3-17. Kellogg said 250 kids take part in the travel program and 320 play intramural soccer.
She told the Council, “My desire is really that the program belong to the people and the Village of Key Biscayne. It’s set up so that as a vendor, the program belongs to you.
“We want it to be an integral part of the Key’s identity.”
Kellogg added both the teams and the club are thriving.
The teams are having success in South Florida’s competitive soccer community, and the club has reached the Village’s goal of being self-sufficient, i.e. receiving no Council subsidy.
Council members did ask about the $60,000 fee the KBSC receives from the Village to operate the program, but Parks and Recreation Director Todd Hofferberth said the number is only higher than that in other sports because of the soccer program’s size.
“This program is five to six times the size of other sports,” Hofferberth said, adding percentage-wise, the fee is in line with other sports.

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