Council decries allegation of 'double-dipping' ratepayers to pay for pools

Council has denied it will be "double dipping" into ratepayers' pockets to fund the shire's swimming pools.

Following last week's revelation that an SRV, which in part covers costs incurred for the six-council-run pools, has been earning hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2008/09, the council was concerned about misunderstanding in the community. A concern borne out by some readers and social media commentators on Australian Community Media pages.

Concept design of upgrades to Bega Pool.

Concept design of upgrades to Bega Pool.

Council confirmed on Friday that, should the new proposed SRV application go ahead - and if it was successful - then it does not intend to budget for pools out of the general fund as well as out of the new SRV.

In saying that, council also said it had not yet decided to proceed with an SRV application - although it was certainly the focus of the handful of public consultation session held in recent weeks.

"Council will use feedback from all aspects of the current community consultation process to determine whether to proceed or not," a BVSC spokesperson said.

At one of those sessions, former council general manager David Jesson raised the issue of perceived "double dipping".

Council said it needs $2.03million a year to continue to operate, maintain and renew or upgrade the six pools. Admission fees and user programs account for $867,000 of that.

The proposed SRV would cover the cost of operation, maintenance and renewal of pools. However operation and maintenance is currently funded from the general rates.

Mr Jesson questioned if a new SRV covered all three items of expenditure, what would happen to the money currently being spent on operation and maintenance of pools.

As revealed by Australian Community Media last week, an SRV was successfully applied for in 2008/09, which in part covered "recreation buildings and pools".

In its first year it raised $70,000 for that aspect of the "broad-ranging SRV" and in 2017/19 it raised $90,024, with the earnings also attracting compound interest over that time.

Council said those funds have been used "for minor improvements for pools such as shade covers".

"The pools component of the 2008/2009 SRV amount does not go close to meeting the current operating/maintenance and future upgrade costs of six pools," BVSC said.

"That's why we're proposing a new dedicated SRV for pools to meet current and future needs.

"The new proposed SRV will be a dedicated source of funding to be used to cover operating, maintenance and upgrade costs of our six pools into the future, as resolved by the current council in 2017 and as identified by the community as a priority through the Aquatic Facilities Review Final Report (Otium Planning Group, 2016)."

There's still time to have your say. All residents and ratepayers are encouraged to provide feedback about the proposed SRV via www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/HaveYourSay by October 20.

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