In 2016, Council engaged Otium Planning Group to conduct a review of the public aquatic facilities within the Bega Valley Shire. The aim of this project was to develop a strategic document with the purpose of providing direction on the provision, value, costs, opportunities, risk management and the future asset renewal of these facilities.
This review was presented to Council and has been used for a series of workshops with Councillors to understand the history of and future considerations for our aquatic facilities; including how our community uses the pools, what factors affect use, what modern aquatic facilities look like and what the associated costs are.
Following on from these workshops, at the Council meeting on 22 November 2017, Council adopted the following goal:
‘To have a fit for purpose six pool aquatic strategy that maximises opportunities for the community and visitors to participate and enjoy facilities that meet legislative and compliance requirements and have pools that are operating at modern standards.’
Using the adopted goal, Council employees were directed to develop a full profile covering capital, operational, management and funding option for discussion with Councillors and the community. This profile identifies the costs required to meet the adopted goal and continue to provide the existing six swimming pools in the Bega Valley into the future.
Public swimming pools provide a variety of health and lifestyle benefits for the community. However, there are significant costs involved in the construction, operation, staffing, maintenance and renewal of these assets and facilities.
Developing a strategy to manage the six pools collectively is an important item in the goal adopted by Council. This acknowledges changes since the current pools were each build as individual projects and also that there is relationships between the facilities. It will take into consideration what is known about our facilities, establishes what we’d like to provide and options on how we will provide this.
A Swimming Pools Strategy aims to give direction on best options to meet the challenges in providing public pools relating to compliance, meeting expectations, needs and funding.
In September and October 2019, we shared with the community the Swimming Pools Strategy Discussion Paper. The Discussion Paper provided information to generate discussion and gave the community an opportunity to provide feedback that was used to develop the draft Strategy.
The draft Swimming Pool Strategy, once adopted, will provide direction for the provision, planning, operation and funding of swimming pool facilities now and into the future.
Council adopted a six-pool goal which retains the current assets. Due to age, some pools do not meet current standards, regulations and expectations. The age of some facilities is also beginning to make operations more difficult and costly, and this will begin to affect use. In acknowledging there are problems and challenges with the existing pools, in order to meet the six swimming pool goal, the questions become:
The challenge will be sourcing funding to renew (and upgrade where needed) facilities and assets to enable the six-pool goal to be met as well as continuing to fund operational and maintenance costs.
Modern swimming pool facilities come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and features. Over the last 60 years, changing legislation, facility requirements and community expectations have influenced the design of facilities and require greater funding levels. When looking forward we need to consider what facilities are needed now and acknowledge that public pools are long life assets. What is built now is expected to last 60 years, so it is important to keep in mind how uses, needs and expectations will change over that time.
The draft Swimming Pool Strategy shows examples of contemporary public pools and their key elements.
There will be significant costs involved in renewing six public swimming pools to modern standards and keeping them operating. While this will happen progressively as facilities become due for renewal, the current levels of funding will not be able to meet those costs. A summary of current key cost areas is shown below (all in 2019 dollars).
Based on the information above the total costs Council needs to fund on an annual basis to meet the six modern pool goal in the longer term is $2.028M year (in 2019 dollars) in addition to revenue generated through fees.
To fund the six pool Swimming Pool Strategy Bega Valley Shire Council is considering, as outlined in the draft Strategy, a Special Rate Variation (SRV)
to provide long term security of swimming pool services to the community. The first step in the Special Rate Variation process has been taken, with Council resolving in November, to notify the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of its intention to apply for a SRV. The decision to formally apply will be made in February 2020.
The proposed SRV, if applied for and then approved by IPART, would allow Council to increase general income above the rate peg increase, which is annually determined by IPART, and to raise the revenue from all rate payers to help keep our pools operating. This would ensure that the six pools meet all legislative and compliance requirements and are operating at modern standard in modern facilities. It also allows for fees to be kept at a level which is affordable to everyone.
If an SRV application is lodged and is successful who pays what is not the same across all ratepayers. Council’s general rates are calculated using two parts. The first, the base rate is the same for all ratepayers, the second component is linked to the land valuation for the property. The amount Council applies for is indicated as a percentage rise in income generated and does not directly relate to the increase on each individual property. To look at the impact of this and to calculate what your rates would look like if the proposed SRV was applied visit our Rate calculator (we are fine-tuning our Rate Calculator and will have it available online shortly). Please have your current yearly rate notice at hand to help you make this calculation. This will show what the impact would have been in this year and will provide an indication as to the amount of the increase for your property next year.
This project is connect to Council's Community Strategic Plan through: