State’s low-in­ter­est fi­nance to save ratepay­ers ‘hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars’

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY STEVE KELLY skelly@ ne­me­dia.com.au

RU­RAL City of Wan­garatta Coun­cil has se­cured a $6 mil­lion low-in­ter­est loan from the State La­bor Govern­ment to pay for works up front con­nected to the 50 me­tre out­door and hy­drother­apy pools project at the Wan­garatta In­door Sports and Aquatic Cen­tre (WISAC).

The cash in­jec­tion was se- cured through the govern­ment’s Com­mu­nity Sports Infrastructure Loans scheme and it is set to save ru­ral city ratepay­ers hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol- lars over the life of the loan.

A project go ahead for the pools was made pos­si­ble with $1.5m from the State Govern­ment (hy­drother­apy) in 2016 and $4.4m from the Fed­eral Govern­ment this year, and this low in­ter­est loan will now pay coun­cil’s share of the up-front cost.

It’s ex­pected the in­ter­est rate on the loan will be about 1.5 per cent over 10 years, but coun­cil city chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Bren­dan McGrath said the terms are still to be ne­go­ti­ated with the depart­ment.

“That will save us many hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars over a 10 year term – it’s fan­tas­tic and we’re look­ing for­ward to get­ting on with it,” Mr McGrath said.

Ja­clyn Symes (MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) made the an­nounce­ment on Fri­day at WISAC, say­ing it will be a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for aquatic fa­cil­i­ties, “far su­pe­rior to what any­one else has in coun­try Vic­to­ria”.

“Pools are in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive fa­cil­i­ties for coun­cils to not only build but also op­er­ate so to take this leap for the com­mu­nity of Wan­garatta is go­ing to ben­e­fit the whole re­gion,” Ms Symes said.

“It will open up the op­por­tu­nity to host elite com­pe­ti­tions, re­gional events and also give some­thing for young peo­ple to as­pire to in terms of reach­ing that top level.”

Leon New­ton - gen­eral man­ager re­cre­ation of YMCA, which man­ages the coun­cil-owned WISAC - said the pool project has been a long time com­ing and he’s hon­oured to be a part of it.

Works will take 18 to 24 months once they com­mence and coun­cil is go­ing out to ten­der this week.

“The an­nounce­ment (of state’s up-front low-in­ter­est $6m loan) is very unique as it will al­low this to come to­gether in a more timely way than it would oth­er­wise oc­cur,” Mr New­ton said.

“With 360,000 vis­its an­nu­ally to the fa­cil­ity, it’s only go­ing to in­crease from this point for­ward.

“Mem­ber­ships and ca­sual pa­tron­age will grow and with the hy­drother­apy pool in ad­di­tion to the 50 me­tre pool, there will be no shortage of co­horts we can at­tract to the fa­cil­ity.

“From six weeks to 90 plus years old, there is go­ing to be some­thing for every­one and that’s the beauty of a one stop shop – this will only com­ple­ment it fur­ther.”

Deputy ru­ral city mayor Mark Cur­rie said the fa­cil­ity will be the envy of a lot of re­gional cities.

“If you have a look at the sport­ing tal­ent around Wan­garatta it’s just get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter ev­ery year,” he said.

“We have an older pool in Wan­garatta but this will be more cen­tralised with all the aquatic fa­cil­i­ties lo­cated in the one spot which will make the run­ning of the pools more ef­fi­cient and eco­nom­i­cal,” he said.

The ru­ral city coun­cil was one of 37 ap­pli­cants who sought a share of the govern­ment’s $100 mil­lion Com­mu­nity Sports Infrastructure Loans Scheme.

PHOTO: Mel Guy

YOUR SHOUT: Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta coun­cil deputy mayor Mark Cur­rie, Ja­clyn Symes (MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) and YMCA gen­eral man­ager re­cre­ation Leon New­ton (right) had plenty to smile about at the an­nounce­ment of the $6 mil­lion loan for aquatic up­grades on Fri­day.

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