Council backs Chewton pool

A request for operational funding for the Chewton Swimming Pool was given the green light at the Mount Alexander Shire Council meeting last Tuesday night.

Councillor Christine Henderson put forward a notice of motion requesting funds to provide ongoing support to Chewton Pool Incorporated for the operation of the pool.

In 2011, the council resolved to allocate $25,000 a year to support the operation of the pool. That funding agreement expires in 2014. In order to renew its appointment as a Committee of Management with the DSE, now known as the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI), Chewton Pool Inc. needs to demonstrate that it has ongoing support from the council.

In her report, Cr Henderson said that the current funding arrangement between Chewton Pool Inc. and the council falls substantially below the actual running costs associated with operating the pool. The motion proposed for the council to continue to provide funding and that funding levels be increased to $35,000 for 2013-2014, to $38,000 for 2014-2015, to $40,000 for 2015-2016 and for $40,000 again for 2016-2017.

Cr Henderson’s motion noted that the pool has proved to be popular, with over 7000 people using it in the recent swimming season. Also noted was that implicit in the funding proposal was the expectation that Chewton Pool Inc. is successful in extending the term of its agreement or forming a new agreement with DEPI until at least the end of the 2017 swimming season, and if not, that funding will cease after the 2013-2014 financial year.

During question time, the president of Chewton Pool Inc., Fritz Hammersley, spoke in support of Cr Henderson’s motion.

“I think it is an excellent proposal and I speak on behalf of everyone on the committee,” Mr Hammersley said.

Councillor Jess Howard questioned locking in funding amounts on an agreement between DEPI and Chewton Pool Inc. when future costs may be unknown.

“I do want to support this motion but I have grave concerns about committing funds into the future,” Cr Howard said.

Councillor Sharon Telford commented that this was something the council had been considering for some months and was not something that was being taken lightly.

Councillor Tim Barber said that the Chewton community taking over operation of the pool had saved the council “quite a bit of money, especially considering the capital improvements that have been undertaken”.

“I feel that we should take that into consideration,” Cr Barber said.Cr Henderson said she was anticipating that DEPI would again commit to three years of funding as they had previously done.The motion was carried with a unanimous vote from all seven councillors.

Mount Alexander Shire councillor, Christine Henderson (centre) with Chewton Pool Inc. committee member, Gerard Oldman (and Biscuit the pooch), treasurer Bronwyn Dawson, president Fritz Hammersley and his son Dashielle, committee member Helen McGeachin and secretary Damian Mason at the Chewton Pool.

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