Rotorua Aquatic Centre staff have been left stunned, upset and angry by the news the Rotorua Lakes Council will be outsourcing management of the pool complex.
The council today announced it would partner with Community Leisure Management (CLM) to manage the centre, saying it would result in more efficient services and cost savings for the council.
The decision to contract CLM, which manages a number of council-owned public pools around the country, was made at today's confidential section of the full council meeting.
In a media release, the council said staff had been informed and the centre would be closed for the rest of today to give them time to consider the news and speak with their families.
"The new arrangement is expected to result in more efficient, effective and expanded services and programmes, substantial cost savings for council and opportunities for future partnership investment in the centre.
"Council will retain ownership and control of the centre with CLM delivering agreed outcomes for the community. Admission fees and swim school fees will not change with the transfer of management."
The council said managing the centre had cost it about $2.2m per year and the new contract would provide savings of about $700,000 in year one and more in subsequent years.
"Council has been working hard to ensure as many staff as possible get the opportunity to retain roles at the centre. This will be a difficult time for some who are affected and council will continue to provide support."
It said there were 38 part-time and full-time permanent staff at the centre and 28 (the swim instructors and lifeguards) would be offered jobs with CLM at current pay rates.
The remaining staff (managers and supervisors, administration and front-of-house staff) will have the option of applying for roles with CLM.
"Staff have been kept informed during the review process and were informed of today's decision prior to this public announcement."
The matter was dealt with in the confidential part of today's full council meeting to respect the need for staff to be notified of any decisions before the public, and due to the commercially sensitive nature of some of the information presented, the statement said.
Awunz Construction and Infrastructure union organiser Rob Popata, who represents Aquatic Centre union members, said staff were stunned, upset and angry.
"Many of the staff knew it was coming but it was still a hell of a shock.
"There were some teary eyes as many of these people have worked for the council for a long time.
"There is a view that these workers are transitional, uni students and the like, but that's not the case here."
Popata said the staff were "not in the right frame of mind" after being handed the news and appreciated being able to go home to speak with their whanau.
CLM chief executive Craig Carter said the company was excited about the opportunity to "work alongside the team and make some good improvements".
"We will be meeting the staff early next week and will be looking at ways to grow the business which will lead to more employment opportunities."
Carter said staff had been offered the "exact same benefits" as they received now and both the council and CLM were committed to looking after the staff.
Background to proposed outsourcing of management:
Under the Local Government Act councils must review the effectiveness of services at least every six years and a review of the Aquatic Centre has been conducted in recent months.
The review looked at whether the centre was delivering services in the most effective way for the community and included looking at current management and alternative management options.
Expressions of interest were called for from aquatic centre management companies and three were received. Two were shortlisted and were asked for detailed proposals with CLM emerging as the preferred candidate. Further assessment against five criteria (experience and team capability, methodology and management systems, community benefit, local economic benefit, sustainability and price) was then conducted before a recommendation was made.
About Community Leisure Management Limited (CLM):
•The company has 22 years' experience and manages 27 facilities across the country, notably in South Auckland where it works to support and build capability of communities in need.
•Has committed to delivering and expanding agreed community outcomes, conduct regular needs analysis, analysis of local perceptions and hold annual user group meetings.
•CLM has achieved the highest level of ACC accreditation for workplace safety management.
•CLM will look to expand the Aquatic Centre's role and activities offered which it expects will lead to more jobs. It will also provide work experience for local youth.
•Interested in being a partner to invest in the facility eg in Palmerston North CLM partnered with a hydro slide business, resulting in new activities at no cost to the local council.
About the Aquatic Centre:
•Opened 1975 with more facilities added in 1988 and 2004 – no substantial investment since;
•About 350,000 visits per year;
•Hosts swimming, water polo and underwater hockey competitions;
•Delivers learn to swim programmes to public and schools through Rotorua Lakes Swim School and for the past two years has partnered with Swim Rotorua to deliver swimming and water safety programmes to schools, particularly lower decile schools.