Lawrence City Commission to consider increasing pool entrance fees by $2 by 2020

photo by: Nick Krug

The Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Pool entrance fees at Lawrence aquatic centers could soon be getting more expensive for all age groups, including toddlers.

As part of its consent agenda Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider increasing pool entrance fees by $2 over the next two years and no longer providing free entry to 3- and 4-year-olds.

The last pool entrance fee increase was in 2008, and Lawrence Parks and Recreation Director Derek Rogers said that all other pool user fees, such as those for classes, rentals and events, have increased in the past 10 years to help cover increasing operational expenses. He said the entrance fees have been the exception.

“We’ve tried to make sure that those (user fees) are cost-recovering the correct amount that they should,” Rogers said. “The only thing we haven’t adjusted is the daily rates.”

Operations at the city’s two aquatic centers — the outdoor center, at 727 Kentucky St., and the indoor center at Free State High School — are funded through user fees and sales tax, and since 2008 operation expenses have increased by about $88,000, or by about 15 percent, according to a memo to the commission. The memo states that since 2008, the aquatics division has increased program fees, rental fees and rented time to an additional private swim team to offset expenditures. Rogers said there was limited room to add more programing or rentals.

If the commission approves the entrance fee increase, 3- and 4-year-olds will no longer be admitted free and pool entrance fees will increase by $2 total by 2020. Specifically, pool entrance fees will increase by $1 beginning May 1 and then increase by $1 again on Jan. 1, 2020. Currently, children 4 and younger are admitted for free, children ages 5-17 pay $3, adults pay $4, and those older than 60 pay $3.

Rogers said the department would continue to donate 5,000 passes annually to social service organizations and other community groups. He said they also tried to be aware of the community impact when formatting the increase.

“This is something that we’ve stayed away from obviously for 10 years, because it usually is a touchy subject with the community,” Rogers said. “And if you look at our plan, that’s kind of why we went with a two-phase approach, to lessen the impact on the community.”

Rogers said that Lawrence pool entrance fees are less expensive than those of other communities. For example, the cities of Mission, Lenexa, Topeka and Olathe all charge $5 or more for entry, according to comparison tables provided to the commission. Rogers said the increase would help boost the aquatic division’s fee-supported revenue and bring fees more in line with those of other communities.

The pool entrance fee increase is expected to increase revenue by $66,500 in 2018 and an additional $69,000 in 2020, according to the memo.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

Correction: Due to an error in the city staff memo, a previous version of this article misstated by how much the operating expenses at the city’s two aquatic centers have increased.