Council set to take plunge
RATE rises in the Ballina Shire are set to fund much-needed upgrades at both the Ballina and Alstonville public swimming pools.
Council has already committed $200,000 in this year's budget to investigate possible designs for both pools.
This could include widening and heating the 50m pools, extending and heating one of the smaller pools and adding pool covers.
During winter the water temperate of the Ballina pool plummets to 21 degrees. The average temperature of a heated pool is about 27 degrees.
Technology such as chlorinators and filters would also be upgraded and improvements would be made to existing infrastructure such as disability access.
Ballina Mayor David Wright said during the past 30 years little had been invested into upgrading either pool.
"I have been flagging this for 12 months … and I have not had one (piece) of negative feedback," he said.
"Every time I've mentioned it at ratepayers', service club groups, anytime I'm making a speech talking about our rates and when we put our budget out for this year and flagged it, not one person was against it.
"I think everyone just wants the swimming pools done up."
Money raised by the 2.5% rate increase in the 2015/16 financial year would go towards a $4m loan to upgrade the Ballina pool facilities.
The following year, a similar rate rise would help fund a $4m upgrade to the Alstonville pool.
Even with the rate rise, Cr Wright said the Ballina Shire would still have cheaper rates than many surrounding areas.
He said council would conduct extensive public consultation before any plans to upgrade the pools were finalised.
Annie Lewis, from the Ballina Memorial Swimming Club, said heating the Ballina swimming pool would give locals a lot more options.
"We're just really pleased the council is looking into it," she said.
"There's a lot of potential there for both of the pools."