BREC agreed Thursday to increase zoo admission fees for school groups, but decided to wait on raising all other admission fees to the attraction until the 2012 budget is discussed at the end of the year.
Baton Rouge Zoo Director Phil Frost asked the commission to increase all of the admission fees to offset rising operating costs.
But the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission voted to wait and discuss the possible fee increases when finalizing its budget at the end of the year.
“That, I think, will give ample time to review the increases and be prepared when it does come up at committee meetings,” said Commission Chairman Bill Benedetto.
Frost proposed raising all fees by $1.25 per person except for children 1 or younger.
Adult fees would have increased from $7 to $8.25 and children’s fees from $4 to $5.25 under the proposal.
The increases would have gone into effect Jan. 1 had the proposal passed.
The special rate for school groups, the only fee the commission agreed to raise, increased from $1 per student and $1.50 per teacher or chaperone to $2.25 per student and $2.75 per teacher or chaperone.
That fee will go into effect when the school year begins in August.
Frost said the zoo’s admission fees are among the lowest in the nation.
According to the proposal, the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans charges $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for children, and the Birmingham Zoo charges $14 for adults and $9 for children.
Some commission members said they were concerned about raising fees arbitrarily.
Commission member Bert Neal said he would like to see some sort of “business plan” in place before BREC raises fees for any of its attractions.
“I’m not against raising fees,” Neal said. “I just think we need to have a plan established and adopted that we can go by when fees are raised.”
The Baton Rouge Zoo’s operating deficit increased by 88 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to its revenue and expenditure report.
Frost said he would support the commission’s decision Thursday.
“We’re here to serve the Commission’s decisions,” Frost said after the meeting. “We will make it work.”
In other business:
SEARCH FOR NEW SUPERINTENDENT: The Commission unanimously voted to hire SSA Consultants of Baton Rouge to search for a new superintendent.
BREC Superintendent Bill Palmer is leaving in January.