Draining cost of the Mirboo North pool

THE future of Mirboo North’s outdoor swimming pool will be discussed this Wednesday night when community groups make public presentations to the South Gippsland Shire Council.

In 2014, four of the shire’s outdoor pools were placed under a collective tender with a three-year management contract handed to external community organisation YMCA.

Council manager of community services Jan Martin said the intention was to “gain cost efficiency” without separate entities managing each of the shire’s pools.

“It was a big transition for local communities to accept an external service provider,” Ms Martin said.

“I guess as we have moved into the first year (of the contract), some communities have indicated they want to take back management of their pool.”

Mirboo North Pool Planning Committee president Fred Couper said the group, which runs community events at the pool, was not satisfied with the pool’s new management.

He will present a submission to council proposing a council and community group “partnership”.

This will see council continue its ownership and financial responsibility of the pool, while the group takes over its management from YMCA.

“We just think the community will do it better, there will be more passion for it and we’ll be able to spend more time on it,” Mr Couper said.

“At the same time, we’ll need continued support from the shire to keep the pool going.”

Council’s Draft Aquatic Strategy 2015-2020 determines the projected costs of maintenance, operation and capital works over the next 15 years for each of its pools.

It states that where a community group desires to take over pool management, they must also take over full ownership.

“That’s a really significant step for any community to take on ,” Mr Couper said.

“Until we know the real processes behind running the pool, we don’t feel it’s appropriate to take on full ownership.”

The Mirboo North outdoor pool’s estimated cost to council for season 2013/14 was $135,041 with an income of $47,000.

The projected cost from seasons 2014/15 until 2029/30 forecast the pool’s maintenance, operation and capital works to reach almost $4.5 million.

Ms Martin said council was “committed” to YMCA’s collective contract, but if management and ownership was transferred that 15-year cost allocation would no longer apply.

“We wouldn’t be making a provision in our long-term financial plan for capital works, if the community took ownership and management of the pool,” Ms Martin said.

“What we are suggesting is that council would contribute towards the operation of the pool. We wouldn’t leave communities high and dry.”

She said council was open to all ideas concerning the future of the Mirboo North pool and a date for the final decision would depend on the number of responses received.