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 hikes, such as that for library cards, will only affect non-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 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, four out of five 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. Commissioner Bob Ott objected, saying he supported the $100 membership fee as proposed.
Prices for classes at the senior centers are also going up.
Separately, Cobb residents will have to pay $10 to rent picnic pavilions for the first time.
The zoning certification fee will rise from $40 to $100, and the cost of business licenses will go up about 10 percent depending on the size of the business.
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