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    Dr Tim Harrison.

Council takes on asset management

Preparations are underway for Ararat Rural City Council to take over management of the Ararat Fitness Centre later this month.

The council plans to take charge of the centre on October 28 without disruptions to services and-or price changes during a changeover period.

Chief executive Tim Harrison said centre users might notice small physical changes in the building in the coming weeks, with the council making minor alterations to the entrance and installing new signs.

But Dr Harrison said it would otherwise be business as usual after the council took over management. 

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“The Ararat Fitness Centre’s operating hours, group fitness timetables and gym operation hours will all stay the same,” he said.

“Fees and charges will also stay the same, direct debits will continue, and there will be no disruption to services. 

“Customers will not notice any difference.”

Dr Harrison said the council had guaranteed centre staff members work until January 2020 and advertised two new positions – a centre co-ordinator and aquatics team leader. 

He said the roles would start when the council took over management. 

The council announced in September it would take over management of the centre, Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool and the Willaura and Lake Bolac swimming pools.

Dr Harrison said anticipated savings would be about $1.1-million during a first five-year period, from 2019-20 to 2024-25.

He said upgrades would occur during the next 18 months.

“This will be achieved through a loan of up to $2.5-million, serviced through the ongoing savings to the council from ending the contract of current managers Unified Community Sports and Leisure and bringing service delivery in-house,” he said. 

“Some of the funds will also be used to upgrade and repair ageing infrastructure at Willaura Outdoor Memorial Pool and the Peter O’Rorke Lake Bolac Memorial Pool.

“UCSL manages both rural pools, plus the Ararat Fitness Centre and the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool.” 

The council will also be seeking grants from state and federal governments to further offset the cost of the upgrade projects. 

“This is an economic decision that will not only provide a much-needed infrastructure upgrade to important council facilities but will also allow the council to create a stronger link with our community through direct provision of this key service,” Dr Harrison said.

He said the council would work with key user groups and the broader community to redevelop Ararat Fitness Centre facilities to improve accessibility and provide a more up-to-date environment.

The council will present draft plans for the upgrade to stakeholders and centre users for feedback by the end of the year. 

“The council is very excited about the possibilities these upgrades will bring and we hope the community will be very happy to hear the centre will be getting some much-needed attention,” Dr Harrison said.

The entire October 9, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!