Budget won't cut pool hours

By Natalie Dixon

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Tauranga City Councillor Catherine Stewart (centre) met  swimmers Maureen Savage (left) and Chrissie Green at Otumoetai Pools to discuss a proposal to vest the pool to Otumoetai Swimming Club. The proposal was dumped at yesterday's council meeting. Photo/John Borren
Tauranga City Councillor Catherine Stewart (centre) met swimmers Maureen Savage (left) and Chrissie Green at Otumoetai Pools to discuss a proposal to vest the pool to Otumoetai Swimming Club. The proposal was dumped at yesterday's council meeting. Photo/John Borren

Pool opening hours will not be cut but swimmers will have to pay more, Tauranga City Council decided yesterday.

Day one of council's annual plan deliberations saw members vote to increase fees at community pools, including Otumoetai and Memorial pools, by 5 per cent - about 20 cents per swim.

Baywave will rise in line with inflation by 2 per cent or 10c to $4.90 per swim for seniors and children and $7.40 for adults.

Council also voted to keep control of Otumoetai Pool instead of vesting it to Otumoetai Swimming Club after swimmers inundated council with submissions against the proposal.

Otumoetai resident and keen swimmer Johanna Butler told the Bay of Plenty Times she was "extremely happy" with council's decision not to vest the pools to the swimming club.

"This is great news, now we can be certain the community will have access," she said.

Another swimmer, Chrissie Green, said she was also happy with council's decision not to cut pool hours.

"It's great to know they pay attention to what the community is saying," she said.

Vesting the pool would have shaved $370,000 off the city's budget, an amount the council would have to find elsewhere if they were to keep the rates increase to the proposed 6.7 per cent.

About $1 million worth of extras proposed by the public during the draft annual plan process such as an outdoor gym, lighting at Blake Park and a city centre marketing spend could push the rates increase to 7.7 per cent but councillors said they were determined to keep it to 6.7 per cent.

"Council staff are looking for other savings at the moment so our bottom line won't be changed," Cr Gail McIntosh told the Bay of Plenty Times.

The council yesterday threw their support behind the proposed university campus in the CBD, opting to transfer the ownership of a chunk of council owned land in Durham St to the project.

A new city events policy was approved, along with a $382,000 fund which would be used to create new events in Tauranga.

The Tauranga Waterfront wharewaka project was delayed for at least another 12 months, with council voting to spend $150,000 budgeted for the project on the cost of developing the site of an old bakery discovered at Masonic Park.

Tauranga City Council project manager Tony Bodger said council staff had been working with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga to come up with a solution for the historic site.

"We have the option of leaving it exposed, of putting a fence up around the site and some story boards in place," he said.

Mr Bodger said the cost would be about $40,000 but council also had to cover the cost of pausing Fulton Hogan workers who had to down tools due to the archaeology dig.

Cr Bill Grainger said he was reluctant to put the wharewaka project off again but "tough decisions had to be made".

"I have already said we are lacking in Maori culture in Tauranga and I am keen to see this project happen ... so many people would enjoy it but we have to make some tough decisions."

The city's libraries will be under the spotlight during today's deliberations, with councillors set to decide the fate of the mobile library and the Greerton library expansion.

Deliberations start at 9am.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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