Ararat uses saved money on upgrades
Ararat Rural City Council will use money saved by managing services ‘in house’ to upgrade fitness and aquatic assets in the municipality.
The council will direct the savings into upgrading Ararat Fitness Centre and Willaura and Lake Bolac swimming pools.
Council chief executive Tim Harrison said the upgrades would happen during the next 18 months.
He said he anticipated savings to be about $1.1-million during an initial five-year period, from 2019-20 to 2024-25.
He said the council would achieve the upgrades through a loan of up to $2.5-million and meet loan commitments
through ongoing savings from ending a contract involving managers Unified Community Sports and Leisure and taking control of service delivery.
“Some of the funds will also be used to upgrade and repair ageing infrastructure at Willaura Outdoor Memorial Pool and the Peter O’rorke Lake Bolac Memorial Pool,” he said.
UCSL manage both rural pools, plus the Ararat Fitness Centre and Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool.
The council will also be seeking grant money from state and federal governments to further offset the cost of the upgrade projects.
Dr Harrison said council last week resolved to end the UCSL contract 10 months early after a report identified significant savings could be made by bringing management in house.
He said the council had given UCSL two months’ notice, as required in a contract, and confirmed all current staff would have secure employment for at least three months after the council took control of services on October 28.
“The council is very aware of the uncertainty that this change brings to staff and we want to work with them as soon as possible to talk about their future employment with the centre,” Dr Harrison said.
“This is an economic decision that will not only provide a much-needed infrastructure upgrade to important council facilities, but will also allow the council to create a stronger link with our community through direct provision of this key service.”
Dr Harrison said the council would work with key user groups and the broader community to redevelop Ararat Fitness Centre facilities to improve accessibility and provide a more upto-date environment.
“As centre users will already know, Ararat Fitness Centre is in need of an upgrade and the council has already started work on plans for this. We will refine these plans through broad consultation,” he said.
“The council is very excited about the possibilities these upgrades will bring, and we hope the community will be very happy to hear the centre will be getting some much-needed attention.”
Dr Harrison said the council would present draft plans for the fitness centre upgrade to stakeholders and centre users for feedback by the end of the year.
“This is great news for the community – the Ararat Fitness Centre is no longer up to modern standard with areas including accessibility, change spaces and exercise areas needing a lot of attention,” he said.
“The two rural swimming pools at Lake Bolac and Willaura are also in urgent need of upgrades and we are pleased we will be able to undertake the necessary work there after this decision.”
UCSL has had the contract to manage the four facilities since October 2015.