MAYOR Jan McWilliams says council did not reject the proposal to allocate funds for the Nabiac Pool in next year’s budget, but simply voted to defer discussions.
At last week’s ordinary meeting of council councillors Weate, Vaughan and Gill voted in favour of a recommendation to allocate funds and release the construction certificate for the pool with councillors Hutchinson, Stephens, McCaskie, Roberts, Tuffy and Mayor McWilliams all in favour of deferring voting.
“All we’re doing is deferring a vote until we can discuss cost sharing with Greater Taree Council. We feel this is necessary because half of Nabiac is in the Greater Taree shire. We’ve been consulting with the community for more than ten years on this. If we really wanted to reject it we would have done it a long time ago.”
Council’s manager of parks and gardens David Bortfield made similar assurances and said that suggestions that funding for the pool has been outright rejected as “sensationalism.”
The Nabiac Pool Committee has lobbied council for 19 years and it is largely through their own funding and grant applications that the funds for the pool’s construction have been raised. In that time council has provided in kind support through the allocation of land and approving the development application.
In 2008 the committee secured grant funding of $135,000 towards the development of the pool facility which was used to develop the amenities building and plant room for which council granted the construction certificate. The committee has advised that it currently has adequate funds to complete the construction of the pool but council has thus far withheld the construction certificate until the future running costs of the pool, which would fall to council, can be determined.
The report tabled at last week’s ordinary meeting identified a figure of $95 -$100,000 for the 2013/2014 financial year.
“That figure should be treated as a worst case scenario,” Mr Bortfield said.
“The community has always given an indication that it will help with the running costs and with that ongoing contribution the overall figure could be much less than that.”
Mr Bortfield also noted in his report that there has been greater dialogue between council and the committee over the last 14 months. The assurance has done little to appease residents.
“The Nabiac and District Pool Committee are extremely disappointed to learn that councillors have deferred a decision to incorporate the running of the pool complex in the 2013/14 budget and approve the final construction certificate,” president Wendy Weller said.
“Council and the community have set up a committee to help run the complex, and will continue to donate $30,000 per year to the ongoing costs. We are a small vibrant village 30 kilometres from the ocean and the children and residents of Nabiac deserve to be given the opportunity to survive in water and learn to swim. For councillors to postpone voting on such an essential service to every child in Australia is inconceivable. It seems the councillors have put a price on a child’s head.”