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Aquatics Center to get second look by council

May 23, 2011

Big Spring City Council is expected to put the finishing touches on ordinances and the fee schedule for the new municipal aquatic center Tuesday night, just in time for the facility’s grand opening next month.
First reading of the amendments to the city code and ordinances passed on a 6-1 vote May 10, with District 2 Councilman Manuel Ramirez Jr. the lone dissenter.
At the heart of Ramirez’s argument against the fee schedule is the proposed $5 entrance fee for swimmers age 3 years and up, a sharp increase from the $2 fee charged before the municipal swimming pool was closed.
The amendments would also rename the code from “Comanche Trail Park Municipal Swimming Pool” to “Big Spring Family Aquatic Center,” as well as establish fees for pavilion rental and other transactions involving the facility.
According to Ramirez, the $5 fee would put an undue strain on families with two to three children.
“For the average family with two or three kids, $5 each seems a little too much. It could get really expensive,” Ramirez told the council.
According to Mayor Tommy Duncan, the $5 fee is a best “guess” at what will need to be charged to make sure the facility — financed by city bonds — doesn’t become a burden to local taxpayers.
“Five dollars is a very good guess at what it will cost to run the pool,” Duncan said.
Also on Tuesday’s agenda is first reading of an ordinance that would repeal free entry for city employees to the aquatic center, which has long since been a part of municipal employee’s compensation package.
The council will also canvass the returns from the May 14 election during the meeting, as well administer the oath of office to incoming members.
District 1 challenger Marcus Fernandez ousted longtime councilwoman Stephanie Horton in the election, taking 136 ballots (70.10 percent). Horton emerged with just 58 ballots (29.9 percent) in the contest.
The race for the District 3 seat on the council wasn’t much closer, with challenger Glen Carrigan unseating
incumbent Joann Staulcup by taking 170 ballots (56.86 percent) of the vote. Staulcup came in second in the contest with 109 ballots (36.45 percent), while Shannon Thomas had 18 ballots (6.02 percent). Write-in candidate Oscar Velasco managed just two ballots (.67 percent).
Both Fernandez and Carrigan are expected to be sworn in during Tuesday’s meeting.
Also part of the canvass will be the results from the charter amendment election setting term limits for council members, which got the nod from local voters with 765 ballots (64.34 percent) in favor of the measure and 424 ballots (35.66 percent) against it.
Tuesday’s meeting is to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth St. Fore more information, call 264-2401.

Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at citydesk@bigspringherald.com

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