The Paragould City Council has raised the entrance fees for the outdoor Aquatic Center and the fees for pool parties.

As enacted by ordinance at Monday night’s meeting, the cost to use the Water Park is now $7 a day for individuals at least two years of age; admission is free for those younger than two.

Cost to reserve the indoor pool for a private party is now $600, while for a semi-private party the cost is $300. The changes take effect on April 30 due to enactment of an emergency clause.

Paragould Mayor Josh Agee explained Tuesday morning that a “private party” meant that whoever reserved the pool reserved the entire pool, and could have up to 120 guests. A “semi-private party” meant the patron reserves half the pool and could have up to 60 guests. “So you could have two ‘semi-private parties’ at the same time,” he explained, “or you could even think of it as one big party with the patrons splitting the cost.”

In the immediately preceding meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee, Agee revealed the city’s projected revenue for the Parks and Recreation Department was anticipated to be about $452,000, against projected expenses of $1.9 million. “And there has not been a rate increase since 2016,” he told the committee.

On the other hand, Agee and Ward 4 Position 1 council member Neal Adams noted the state minimum wage had increased from $8 an hour to $11 an hour since 2016.

“We’ve got 60 part-time employees,” Agee told the committee, “that we went from paying $8 an hour to this year, we’ll be paying $11.”

Committee chair Susan Williams of Ward 1 Position 2 added costs had also increased for pool chemical and supplies. “And we have a pump that needs replacement,” Agee added. He said the pump costs $7,000, while needed repairs on the two water slides are expected to be about $18,000. “That’s a total of $25,000 in unexpected expenses,” he said.

“So now is the time for an increase,” said Williams.

Agee explained the need for the emergency clause by noting the process by which reservations are made for the pool parties begins Friday, April 30. But without the emergency clause, the ordinance does not take effect for 30 days.

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