The Atlanta City Council committed approved free swimming for low-income children over the objections of the mayor’s office.
The city charges $5 per child to swim in Atlanta’s 12 city-run pools, but the Atlanta City Council committee approved legislation to eliminate the fee — despite objections from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office.
LaChandra Butler-Burks, the mayor’s executive director of the Office of Recreation, fought tooth and nail to keep the swimming fee in place.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an ordinance was introduced by Council members Matt Westmoreland and Marci Overstreet that pointed out the disparities in deaths at city pools.
Roughly 64 percent of Black children can’t swim, and the drowning rate is three times higher for Black children.
The ordinance blamed the disparities on unacceptable lack of access to city pools for low-income children.
The mayor’s office asked the Council to hold off on the vote to remove the fee because it could increase security costs at the pools significantly. But the Council proceeded with Tuesday’s vote.
The city pools generate $54,000 in revenue for the city. The original legislation moved $60,000 from a non-developmental fund to the Parks Department budget to make up the difference.
The city currently provides security at the pools only during free swim hours.
“We are at our best as a city when we are taking care of the people that need it the most,” Overstreet said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t have free swim in the summer. So we need to work as hard as we can to make sure that happens.”