The continued operation of the swimming pools in the growth towns of Ngukurr and Borroloola are in doubt following a review by the Roper Gulf Regional Council.
A recent report to Council found both Pools to be financially unsustainable under current arrangements. If no new funding or partnerships can be arranged before June 2016 Council has resolved to cease operation of both pools.
Mayor Tony Jack said that the decision is necessary.
“Council does not take this lightly. Council does not actually own the pools and has been managing them on behalf of the Northern Territory Government and the Northern Land Council with no financial contributions. Our good will represents a cost shift to Local Government by both levels of government and the NLC. We recognise the importance of these pools for recreation, health and for aquatic safety education but swimming pools are notoriously expensive to operate and the ongoing maintenance and appropriate staffing cost are blowing out the budget in a way we cannot allow to continue”.
The Borroloola Pool is located on Education Department land and previously operated under an agreement with the Education Department. This recently expired.
The MacArthur River Mine Community Benefits Trust has contributed to the operation cost of the pool but has also indicated it will no longer support the pool operation.
“We have approached the Education Department to enter a new agreement but this will need to be cost positive or at least cost neutral to Council”. Mayor Jack added.
The Ngukurr Pool is also operating at a substantial loss and the NT and Australian Governments have been approached to provide on going assistance.
Our local schools have a clear interest in the continued operation of the pools and we have written to Minister of Education and Sport and Recreation seeking assistance. Otherwise we will have to cease operations in June this year”.
Mayor Jack said that Council has also approached local Indigenous Organisations seeking funding support and sponsorship.
“We are willing to talk about sponsorship including naming rights on what are high profile and important community facilities.” he said.
“We are also looking at other sources of revenue for the pools such as user pays service fees in our rates policy or establishing retail activities. We will do all that is possible to avoid closing these pools but Council cannot continue to leak unsustainably large amounts of money operating them.”
Roper Gulf Regional Council is seeking input from the local communities on the future of their pools.