Cobb OKs higher fees for se­nior cen­ters, parks

In­crease takes ef­fect Feb. 1, will also af­fect busi­nesses.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - METRO - By Meris Lutz

Cobb se­niors who wish to use one of the county’s six se­nior cen­ters will have to pay a $60 an­nual mem­ber­ship fee start­ing next year.

The fee was one of dozens ap­proved by the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers at its reg­u­lar meet­ing Tues­day, af­fect­ing se­nior ser­vices, parks, li­braries, zon­ing and busi­nesses. Some cost in­creases, such as those af­fect­ing li­brary cards, will only af­fect non-county res­i­dents.

The fees, which go into ef­fect Feb. 1, are in­tended to off­set the cost of pro­vid­ing the ser­vices, of­fi­cials said.

“In or­der for us to keep them, we have to fund them,” said Com­mis­sion Chair­man Mike Boyce.

The new fees come at a time of tough fi­nan­cial choices for Cobb County. Af­ter pledg­ing mil­lions to the new Braves sta­dium and re­ject­ing a tax hike, the county com­mis­sion is fac­ing a po­ten­tial $30 mil­lion short­fall in the 2019 bud­get. The 2018 bud­get ap­proved in Septem­ber re­lied on $21 mil­lion in one-time monies to meet its obli­ga­tions. The county has also cut fund­ing for non­prof­its.

The new fees and fee in­creases were rec­om­mended by a cit­i­zen oversight com­mit­tee, but sev­eral res­i­dents turned out to protest the changes.

Hope No­tice of East Cobb said she was there rep­re­sent­ing more than 100 peo­ple who ob­ject to the fees.

“We at­tend a cen­ter that is a vi­tal older adult com­mu­nity hub and we are on a fixed in­come,” she said.

Shirley Scaff said both her knit­ting and cro­chet clubs, The Knit Wits and The Chain Gang, re­spec­tively, use the East Cobb Se­nior Cen­ter for meet-ups.

“I made a lot of friends in the past five years that mean a lot to me be­cause of the se­nior cen­ter,” she said. “A lot of peo­ple are not go­ing to be able to af­ford to come to the se­nior cen­ter any­more.”

In re­sponse to pub­lic feed­back, com­mis­sion­ers low­ered the pro­posed fee from $100 to $60 and em­pha­sized that a pro­gram ex­ists to waive fees for those who meet cer­tain cri­te­ria of fi­nan­cial need. Prices for classes at the se­nior cen­ters are also go­ing up.

Cobb res­i­dents will also have to pay $10 to rent pic­nic pav­il­ions for the first time.

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