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Berrigan committee's funding runs dry despite $10,000 donation

The Berrigan Pool Committee is refusing to reduce the opening hours of the public pool despite a continuing lack of income.

December 6, 2013 4:18am

Berrigan Shire Council, which knocked back a request for operational funding, suggested it was the only way to reduce the pool’s expenditure.

Despite a generous $10,000 donation from Berrigan Lions Club to keep the facility as free entry for patrons, the committee is still $8500 short of its operational budget target.

It approached Berrigan Shire to cover the costs, but councillors voted against the request.

Mayor Bernard Curtin and Cr Andrea O’Neill, the only two Berrigan residents on council, both supported the request.

Berrigan Shire director corporate services Matt Hansen, in a report to council, said the pool committee needed to incorporate a ‘‘balancing act’’ of funds and reconsider its expenses.

‘‘The main thrust is that it is costing $8500 more to run the pool than the income,’’ Mr Hansen said.

‘‘This is directly proportional to extra hours, usage and free entry.

‘‘While the committee is again offering free entry to the pool for 2013/14, the committee claims that the foregone revenue from season tickets and casual entry fees has been made up through sponsorship.

‘‘A quick analysis of the financial information provided to the council by the committee shows that most of the increase in costs comes from increased wages and increased chemical use.

‘‘The quickest way to reduce costs is to reduce hours — it’s a balancing act.’’

Mr Hansen said with a tight council budget, it made it harder to provide the extra funds to the committee.

He said council does, however, commend the efforts of the committee to date.

‘‘We have to be fair to the Berrigan Pool (Committee) though, they are trying to make the sponsorship model work.’’

Berrigan Swimming Pool president Sue Chisholm said the lack of support from the shire was disheartening.

‘‘We had a meeting last night and we are very disappointed with the decision as a committee and as town residents,’’ Ms Chisholm said.

‘‘We notified council of the expenses and the increases, clearly explaining what has been allocated in the initial budget is not covering costs.

‘‘Matt (Hansen), however, has said he is open for discussion and we as a pool committee are going to have further discussions.’’

The lack of usage of the Berrigan pool was first made public in 2011 when the committee asked council to consider making entry to the pool free in an attempt to raise patronage. At the time, the committee was only making $12,000 from entry fees.

Council refused the request saying it would represent a significant loss in revenue.

A year later, two generous donors provided $10,000 to subsidise free entry to the pool.

Berrigan Lions Club provided the funding this year but it will still not cover all operational costs.

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