Older Austinites may receive free pool entry

Barton Springs Pool An entry fee for Barton Springs Pool is charged eight months out of the year.[/caption]

Austin residents 80 years or older may no longer have to pay entry fees at Barton Springs Pool and other city pools.

Austin Parks and Recreation Department staff presented its recommendation to allow free entry for older residents during City Council's Open Space and Environment Committee on Oct. 28.

Currently, residents 65 years old or older are charged about $1 for pool entry throughout the city, said Kimberly McNeeley, Parks and Recreation Department assistant director. Barton Springs Pool charges an entry fee eight months of the year, while other city pools only charge three months of the year.

If every Austin resident who qualifies took advantage of the program and swam five days a week during the months of entry charges, the loss of revenue from waiving the entry fee would be about $289,000 a year, McNeeley said. However, she said the benefit of honoring Austin's active seniors outweighs the loss of potential city revenue.

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman disagreed with the recommendation and said it is unfair for a person to receive free entry because they are of a certain age.

The Open Space and Environment Committee approved the recommendation a 2-1 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council Member Leslie Pool voting "yes" and Zimmerman voting "no."

The recommendation will now make its way to the full council for a final vote.