Targeted rate proposed to sustain pools

The Southland District Council will propose a new targeted rate to help keep Mossburn and Lumsden’s pools open.

Northern Community Board councillor John Douglas said the Lumsden and Mossburn Community Pool committees approached the council last year requesting ongoing funding to help with pool operating costs.

The Mossburn pool committee requested $8625 and the Northern Southland (Lumsden) pool committee requested $9200.

Mr Douglas said the Northern Community Board considered the request and proposed the establishment of a new targeted rate and fund to provide annual assistance to the two pools, the initial amount of $17,825 to be included in the next annual plan.

Before any decision, the community would be consulted, but a report from the council’s finance development co-ordinator, Nicole Taylor, suggested two options.

The first would have the entire Northern Community Board area paying the same fixed amount of $19.29, and the second, of a combined Five Rivers hall, Lumsden hall and Mossburn hall rating area, in which properties would pay $24.28.

Cr Douglas said a swimming pool was a vital asset for those communities.

"As a councillor, I’m of the firm belief that every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and develop water safety skills."

Some pools in the Southland district had a pool rate, a fund which was added on to residents’ rates in that particular area, however, those areas relied only on community funding, he said.

He believed implementing this levy would take some of the pressure off them.

"It would assist them and not only keep them open but functioning to a standard ... We don’t want just pools, we want quality, covered and heated pools."

Mossburn Community Pool committee member Margaret Taylor agreed, saying it had been "awfully hard" to keep operating that way.

She appreciated the support and efforts of the community, but believed a targeted rate was the right move to avoid any closure.

Lumsden Northern Southland pool chairman Pete Wilkinson said the trust had had funding shortages issues for years, even decades.

He said ongoing funding was paramount to enable the trust to keep the pool open.

The council and the board would consult the community about the options and any new rate, even if approved, would not be coming into force until July 2022.

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