Pools, gyms to be managed by Council in a move to save funds

The Ararat Fitness Centre, Willaura and Lake Bolac swimming pools will be receiving upgrades, thanks to ongoing savings Council is making by bringing the services’ management in-house.

Ararat Rural City Council is expecting the savings will reach $1.1 million over the first five-year term, from 2019/20 to 2024/25, after the decision.

PHOTO: Ararat Fitness Centre (Facebook)

Dr Harrison said the upgrades across the three premises will occur over the next 18 months.

“This will be achieved through a loan of up to $2.5 million, which would be serviced through the ongoing savings to Council from ending the contract of current managers Unified Community Sports and Leisure (UCSL) and bringing service delivery in-house,” he said.

“Some of the funds will also be used to upgrade and repair ageing infrastructure at the Willaura Outdoor Memorial Pool and the Peter O’Rorke Lake Bolac Memorial Pool.”

“USCL manage both rural pools, plus the Ararat Fitness Centre and the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool.”

UCSL has held the contract managing the four facilities since October 2015.

Grants from State and Federal governments to further the offset of the costs will also be sought after by Council.

The decision to end the UCSL contract 10 months early was made when the council identified the opportunity to make significant savings.

Council has given UCSL two months’ notice, as required by the contract, before they assume control over the services on October 28.

Dr Harrison said that currently employed staff have been assured employment for at least three months after the October 28 date.

“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 Council to create a stronger link with our community through direct provision of this key service.”

“As centre users will already know, the Ararat Fitness Centre is in need of an upgrade and Council has already started work on plans for this. We will refine these plans through broad consultation.”

Draft plans for the upgrades will be presented to centre users and stakeholders for feedback by the end of the year.

“This is great news for the community – the Ararat Fitness Centre is no longer up to the modern standard with areas including accessibility, change spaces and exercise areas needing a lot of attention,” Dr Harrison 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.”