The city announced Thursday it had dropped pool rates to $1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. through the end of the season.
Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers said the decision was made after city staff consulted with commissioners Tuesday.
Hilgers said the rate drop came about from a resident submitting a suggestion via email to drop the rates for evening swim times.
Commissioner Karen McCulloh said she remembered receiving a memo with a variety of changes to the pool rates, but she was under the impression those changes were for next year. But she added that she thought the evening swim rate reduction was “wonderful.” She said she has received several calls from people asking for more family-friendly rates. She said one resident said it would cost his family $18 to go to the pool. But with the $1 rate change, it would only cost about $4 for a family of four to swim after 6 p.m.
“We really want people out there being active,” McCulloh said. “We can’t subsidize everything, so we have to find a balance.”
McCulloh said that even a middle-class family would be hard pressed to spend $18 a day for the family to swim at the city pools. She said it was on par with taking the family to the movies in cost, but unlike the movies, they want people to go to the pool every day. At current prices, most families could not afford to do that, she said.
Commissioner Wynn Butler had a similar reaction to the city dropping the rates in the evening. He said this change addresses public concern over pool rates. He said by reducing the rates, it will give those people not going to the pool already a chance to go. He said he has received numerous emails and phone calls telling him that people are not going to the pool because they only want to spend an hour or less swimming, but the rates are too expensive to make it worth the effort.
“I think it’s great,” Butler said. “I’m one of those people.”
Butler also said this will give the pool staff a chance to collect more data on pool use for commissioners and city staff to determine how to structure rates in the fall. He said while the commission has stepped in with the rate structure of the pool, it is not the intent of the commission to “micro-manage” the pools, but Butler said he likes the recent changes to the rates and the public voicing its opinion.
“This is a great use of public input,” he said. “That pretty much addresses the concerns the public had, and I think we are headed in the right direction.”
Other rate changes that came about from public outcry this year have also taken effect. Parents who are not swimming are charged $1 to enter the pools all day, and pool-goers who leave and want to return the same day can get their hands stamped in order to re-enter.
The new rate changes have been posted to the pool page on the city website.
Hilgers said all the rate changes for this year are not permanent. He said the city commission will discuss permanent solutions to pool rates in the fall after the pools close for the season.