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City Council delays some fees, approves future ones

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Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb and Director of Parks and Recreation Jim Burress at Sept 12 City Council Meeting.
Jim Burress, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Roswell, talks about implementing fees or other income-generating measures at the Spring River Zoo during Thursday's City Council meeting. City Manager Joe Neeb stands next to him.

The Roswell Adult Center entry fees are out for now. Future zoo fees or money-raising mechanisms are in.

Those were the decisions of the Roswell City Council as part of its six-hour meeting Thursday.

The group voted unanimously, 10-0, to delay the implementation of fees for the Roswell Adult Center on North Missouri Avenue.

Originally the entry and visitors’ fees had been due to start Sept. 1, but public upset led city staff to reconsider.

At the City Council meeting, they said they would take another nine months or so to consider how best to proceed and also how to work with instructors on obtaining liability insurance to teach classes. For now, existing instructors can continue to teach as they have in previous years, City Manager Joe Neeb said.

As part of that measure, the city also voted to rescind a cost-recovery plan for the Adult Center that had provided the rationale for the fees.

During the same meeting, the City Council voted to adopt a new cost-recovery plan for the Spring River Zoo (formerly known as the Spring River Park and Zoo) to reduce the zoo’s reliance each year on city funding for its operating budget.

The much-debated topic passed only after Mayor Dennis Kintigh broke a 5-5 tie with his approval.

Now the city plans to spend about three months figuring out income-generating ideas, which could include merchandise, offering special programs or events for fees, charging for individual events held there, and possibly instituting entry fees. But the possibility of free admission days would be considered as well, according to City Councilor Jacob Roebuck.

In a related vote, the City Council approved spending $291,157 from the city’s general fund to pay about 58% of the costs for a new exhibit for mountain lions, jaguars, cougars or other big cats. The other $208,843 for the $500,000 project has been donated by the Friends of the Zoo, the Safari Club and other contributors. That funding was approved by a 7-3 vote.

More information about these issues will appear in a future print edition of the newspaper.