The city council raised the daily fees for the aquatic center, eliminated the non-resident fee and established a program to provide free season passes to Pendleton residents who qualify as lower-income.

Parks and Recreation Director Dave Byrd recommended increasing the rates from $2.50 to $3 for youth and from $3.50 to $4 for adult, and the council agreed.

Pendleton hasn't increased aquatic center fees since 2006 and the aquatic center's operational costs continue to rise, he said. Byrd also said other city pools will still cost more to use than Pendleton's.

Further, Byrd said increasing the daily fees could push more people to buy season passes.

Councilman Steve Bjerke agreed to support the proposal, but he expressed concerns about dropping the non-resident fee because Pendleton residents pay taxes for the center.

Byrd explained dropping the non-resident fee will increase revenue to the center and will ultimately benefit Pendleton residents.

Bjerke said he will want to see a benefit analysis of that at the end of the season.

Byrd said he didn't know how many people would qualify for the low-income passes, but the Parks and Recreation Department will track that as well.

The council also authorized an application to the Oregon Parks and Recreations Department for a local government grant to help fund a $131,000 improvements project on the west side of Community Park.

The improvements include a small picnic shelter, new play climber, work on the restroom and a new irrigation system that can sense rain as well as breaks in water lines.

Byrd said the new system will save the city water and money. Over the next few years, the parks department wants to use this type of technology throughout city parks.

The city would have to provide a 40 percent match for the grant, which would come from in-house labor, a local grant and park improvement funds. The city also will need to include the project in its 2008-09 budget.

The council also approved a contract with Darcey Ridgway to run the city's dog shelter. The contract is for $350 a month for this calendar year and would increase $25 per month each year thereafter for two years.

Ridgway, who trained elephants from 1999-2003 at Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, Calif., has managed the dog shelter since January on a short-term contract with the city. Before that, city staff operated the facility near the city shops on Southeast Byers Avenue.

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