Ararat uses saved money on up­grades

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

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