The public pools in Cobb County, GA, near Atlanta, will operate with reduced hours this summer due to budget cuts.

The county’s four indoor aquatic centers and two outdoor pools will be open an average of 10 fewer hours per week, according to a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The shorter schedule includes closing the county’s outdoor pools on weekends.

Last fall, the county raised its parks and recreation fees by 10 percent to 15 percent. According to the proposal submitted by the Cobb County Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department in August 2010, the increases were long overdue.

“Most fees have not been raised since 1992, while operational costs have risen by at least 50 percent,” the proposal stated.

Reduced funding for public recreation facilities has become common over the last few years nationwide, says Bill Beckner, research manager for the National Recreation and Park Association.

“The recent economic conditions have caused a lot of jurisdictions to look at all of their operations—not just parks and recreation,” Beckner told Club Industry. “But parks and recreation in many cases are not seen as essential in comparison to police and fire services.”

Aquatic facilities are often affected by the budget cuts because their maintenance and operating costs are usually significantly higher than other recreation facilities. Other Atlanta-area counties have recently elected to reduce hours, raise admission fees, close pools or cede operation of aquatic facilities to nonprofit agencies through public-private partnerships.