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Collie Shire residents warned indoor pool could result in 15 per cent rate rise as public vote cases approved

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenSouth Western Times
Collie residents currently only have access to an outdoor pool within town.
Camera IconCollie residents currently only have access to an outdoor pool within town. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/South Western Times

Shire of Collie residents are being warned rates would increase by up to 15 per cent if a heated indoor pool is built in the town, as the council prepares to hold a public vote on the proposal.

A postal vote on the hot-button issue will be held alongside local government elections on October 21, with residents asked whether they support an indoor pool.

At a special meeting held last month, the council approved the official “yes” and “no” cases for the vote, which will be sent out to residents alongside their ballot paper.

Collie Shire president Sarah Stanley noted there was plenty of debate before the official cases were passed.

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“There was some toing and froing with some of the final wording,” she said.

The public poll will seek to determine if residents are willing to accept a rate increase of between five and 15 per cent above normal to maintain the facility’s operation — the equivalent of an additional $75 to $225 in rates every year.

Cr Stanley said the up to $7.6m cost of building the pool would be sought from other sources, with $1.8m already being committed by the State Government.

“I guess the benefits to the community of the pool are very well defined and there is a significant portion of the community who would love an indoor pool they can use 12 months of the year,” she said.

“The question for the council has been is there enough support for the financial cost of running it.

“Regardless on what pool is built, it will require some subsidies from ratepayers, so the question is do they want to bear that additional cost for the indoor heated pool.”

The financial burden of the pool’s ongoing operation is one of the key arguments of the official “no” case, which also notes the potential for the pool to impact the availability of funding for other council projects, as well as the below-average usage and revenue forecasts for the facility.

The “yes” case is headlined by the proven health benefits an indoor pool could provide for residents with a variety of conditions, the reduction in the need to travel and potentially spend money out of town, and the year-round demand for the facility due to it being heated.

While the council will not be forced to follow the result of the vote, Cr Stanley encouraged the community to have its voice heard.

“I really encourage people to have their say, to be informed and get their ballot papers in,” she said.

As it stands, the nearest indoor pools Collie residents can use are located in Donnybrook and Bunbury.

The topic has come up at council meetings 16 times since 2016, with the Shire previously voting three times not to move ahead with the development.

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