Pool days just got a little more expensive after fee prices raise across Austin

Raga Justin

Starting yesterday, students and residents should expect to pay more for a visit to Barton Springs and other Austin pools to fund maintenance costs. 

All municipal pools and the popular Barton Springs began requesting higher fees depending on age range and resident status. Adult residents, including students, must pay $5 instead of the previous $3 to get into Barton Springs, while admission for seniors, children and junior residents all increased by $1. Adult non-residents must pay $9.

Neighborhood and community pools are still free for entry, said Jodie Jay, aquatics division manager for the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. 

Jay said it has been over 15 years since the city has increased its entry fees for residents. The city will collect an estimated $1.1 million from the price hike.

“We were looking for creative ways to fund our maintenance and operation,” Jay said.

Currently, the City can only wait until something goes wrong with a pool before working on it, which often leads to extended pool closures and additional costs, Jay said. With these additional funds, Parks and Recreation Department officials will replace older valves and pumps in municipal pools this winter, preventing future breakdowns and closures. 

Music performance sophomore Nicholas Ryland often works as a lifeguard for Austin neighborhood pools and said he believes the price hike has both benefits and costs.  

“This just forces students to be more efficient with how they handle their money,” Ryland said. “For me, it’s not exactly harmful, but it’s an extra few bucks someone could maybe spend on lunch instead of this.”

Anil Pattni, a marketing executive who has lived in Austin for four years, said he used to frequent Barton Springs when he first moved to the city. He said community-shared resources such as pools should not be restricted by fees.

“I think everyone should have access to the pool as a privilege of living in Austin,” Pattni said. “It gets so hot here, and it’s such a family friendly place. And incrementally over the summer, those price increases add up …. Everyone already pays city taxes so we can have a place like this. Why should we pay extra to use it?” 

Jay said she does not anticipate turnout to pools and Barton Springs to decrease because of the price change. 

“Pushback is not an issue,” Jay said. “It is a moderate increase, and I think that most people understand that this money is going to a good cause.”