Increases for some Cobb senior services fees, particularly for room rentals and classes, may be put on hold after seniors protested during recent town hall meetings earlier this month, including one at the East Cobb Senior Center (previous East Cobb News post here).
The new fees were set to go into effect on Feb. 1, but Cobb commission chairman Mike Boyce wants to create a citizens committee to come up with alternatives to the staff proposals that upset seniors during those town hall meetings.
Cobb commissioners will be considering that measure at Tuesday’s regular meeting that starts at 7 p.m. on the 2nd floor of the Cobb government building, 100 Cherokee St., in downtown Marietta.
Boyce is recommending that an annual membership fee of $60 for Cobb residents go into effect on Feb. 1, as commissioners had approved in October, but by charging $5 a month instead of the yearly amount in advance.
The commissioners discussed feedback from the town hall meetings at a work session on Monday.
As he did at the East Cobb meeting, Boyce apologized for how the county handled the proposed fee increases, which angered seniors as much as the steep costs for some services.
“We could have done this better,” Boyce said.
At the East Cobb town hall, major objections were made to room rental rates that in some cases were increases of more than 200 or even 300 percent. One group that meets there frequently, the Golden K Kiwanis, said the new rates would cost nearly as much money as the organization raises for its charitable programs.
Some class fees would more than double or even triple, especially for painting classes, which in some cases would have been raised from $48 to $160.
“I get their point,” Boyce said of the protests to those particular fees. “They would like to be part of the discussion. What we don’t want to do is freeze out the seniors.”
If the commissioners approve on Tuesday, existing room rates and class fees will continue until the committee makes its recommendations.
Another suggestion Boyce mentioned to his colleagues is using senior centers as community centers, and permitting programs for those under 55.
Northeast Cobb commissioner JoAnn Birrell also suggested a special fee structure for groups that use the senior centers after hours, since the county incurs additional costs for having staff working during evenings.
Boyce said he would be asking Michael Murphy, his staff assistant for special projects, to form the committee.
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