Preparations are well underway for Ararat Rural City Council to take over management of the Ararat Fitness Centre on October 28 with no disruption to service and no price changes planned during the changeover.
CEO Dr Tim Harrison said centre users may notice some small physical changes around the building over the coming weeks, with Council making minor alterations to the entrance and installing new signage.
However, Dr Harrison said that otherwise, it would be business as usual once the Council took over management.
“The Ararat Fitness Centre’s operating hours, group fitness timetables and gym operation hours will all stay the same when we take over on October 28,” he said.
“Fees and charges will also stay the same, direct debits will continue, and there will be no disruption to services, so customers will not notice any difference once Council takes the reins.”
Dr Harrison said centre staff have been guaranteed work until January 2020, with two new positions – Centre Coordinator and Aquatics Team Leader – recently advertised with those positions due to start when Council takes over management.
Ararat Rural City Council announced in September that it would take over management of the Ararat Fitness Centre, the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool, and the Willaura and Lake Bolac swimming pools with ongoing savings it makes through bringing the services’ management in-house.
Dr Harrison said it is anticipated the saving will be around $1.1 million over the first five-year period, from 2019/20 to 2024/25. The upgrades would happen over the next 18 months.
“This will be achieved through a loan of up to $2.5 million, which would be serviced through the ongoing savings to Council from ending the contract of current managers Unified Community Sports and Leisure (UCSL) and bringing service delivery in-house,” he said.
“Some of the funds will also be used to upgrade and repair ageing infrastructure at the Willaura Outdoor Memorial Pool and the Peter O’Rorke Lake Bolac Memorial Pool. UCSL manage both rural pools, plus the Ararat Fitness Centre and the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Pool.”
Council will also be actively seeking grants from the 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 Council to create a stronger link with our community through direct provision of this key service,” Dr Harrison said.
Council will work with key user groups and the broader community to redevelop the Ararat Fitness Centre facilities to improve accessibility and provide a more up-to-date environment. Draft plans for the upgrade will be presented 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.”