Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Swimming Pools Strategy

Have Your Say


The Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) has six public swimming pools built over the last 60 years. There is no question public swimming pools are highly valued by the community, but they are also high cost assets. At some point, the current swimming pools will each reach the end of their useful life and we need to plan what to do as that point approaches.

A lot has changed in the past 60 years since the first local pool was built in Bega. Modern swimming pool facilities come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and features to meet current standards and community needs and expectations.

Council has adopted the goal:

To have a fit for purpose six pool Swimming Pool strategy that maximises opportunities for the community and visitors to participate and enjoy facilities that meet legislative and compliance requirements and have pools that are operating at modern standards. 

Currently, due to their age, most public pools in the Shire do not meet this goal. The future provision of public swimming pools to meet the goal will come with challenges relating to compliance, meeting needs and expectations, and funding. The most challenging will be funding, as Council currently does not have the significant funds needed to meet the goal and swimming pools are high cost facilities.

For more information visit our Swimming Pools Strategy project page.

Funding option

To fund the six pool Swimming Pool strategy Bega Valley Shire Council is considering, as outlined in the Discussion Paper, a Special Rate Variation (SRV) to provide long term security of swimming pool services to the community.

This SRV would allow Council to increase general income above the rate peg increase, which is annually determined by IPART, and to raise the revenue from all rate payers to help keep our pools operating.  This would ensure that the six pools meet all legislative and compliance requirements and are operating in modern standards. It also allows for fees to be kept at a level which is affordable to everyone.

Without this SRV Council will need to allocate more funding from the general fund budget which in turn reduces funding for other assets and services.  Pool fees would also increase excessively which would potentially render pools inaccessible with attendance and income then decreasing. It would also mean that once a pool has reached its end of useful life the pool will close as the funding to renew and upgrade the facility would not be available.

If an SRV application is lodged, and is successful who pays what is not the same across all ratepayers. Council’s general rates are calculated using two parts. The first, the base rate is the same for all ratepayers, the second component is linked to the land valuation for the property. The amount Council applies for is indicated as a percentage rise in income generated and does not directly relate to the increase on each individual property. To look at the impact of this and to calculate what your rates would look like if this SRV was applied visit our Rate Estimate calculator. Please have your current yearly rate notice at hand to help you make this calculation. This will show what the impact would have been in this year and will provide an indication as to the amount of the increase for your property next year.

Have Your Say information

Council is looking for your feedback on the proposed six pool, Swimming Pools Strategy Discussion Paper and the SRV that would potentially fund the long-term security of swimming pool services to our community. Council will consider all feedback when it reviews the responses on the model for the six pools and the potential SRV application.

Comments can also be left at the bottom of this page or emailed to

Please submit your feedback by 11:45pm Sunday 20 October 2019


Community Information Sessions

Join us at a community information session in your area. All sessions start at 5:30pm

  • Cobargo Hall
    Monday 16 September
  • Eden Log Cabin
    Tuesday 17 September
  • Pambula Hall
    Monday 23 September
  • Bemboka Hall
    Tuesday 24 September
  • Bega Civic Centre
    Monday 30 September
  • Candelo Hall
    Wednesday 2 October

Who's listening

Project timeline


Frequently Asked Questions -  Special Rate Variation (SRV)


Frequently Asked Questions -  Swimming Pools Strategy


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    Comments (17)

  • You have got to be kidding your rate charges are already excessive in this shire. Will be a happy day when councils are merged into larger shires which can only result in less running costs, less staff and hopefully less outsourcing of core council services. Should also result in a higher council responsibilty in the ways in which ratepayer revenue resources are utilised. Get back to basics, especially when federal resouces are reduced or under pressure

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  • Absolutely NOT!! Why should home and land owners have to fork out hundreds of dollars every year INDEFINITELY just so rent payers and visitors can use the pool. How about BVSC raise the cost of the pool entry instead??? The amount in rates we already pay to BVSC is disgusting and we don't see anything for our money. We don't even have a hard rubbish day! How about you look to to the people with money in Federal or State funding.

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  • how about the council leads by example.
    In this current economical situation where money is tight everywhere and people have to make hard choices about how and where they spend their money, maybe councilors should reflect back to when it was a privilege to be chosen to be a representative of the people.
    It would be nice to see members refuse or at least reduce some of the lurks associated with the position and maybe be, once again, held in high esteem within the community like they once were,

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  • A very uncomfortable feeling that BVSC constantly raises rates so that they are higher here than in some of our major cities, at the same time Council makes capital purchases of properties and loses ratepayers funds (Hotel Australia Eden). That rural residents with no waste service are now being charged for a catch-all waste charge even though there is also a charge at the waste station. Some ratepayers choose to live where there are virtually no services in order to live a more responsible 'lighter on the land' life. Community swimming pools are Council responsibility and BVSC should not be constantly suggesting extra rate imposts every time there seems to be a financial shortfall. Find another way.

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  • Our rates are already too high and we struggle to pay them. My family does use the pambula pool at great expense as we have to drive over an hour to get there as this is where the childrens swim lessons are. If there is a rate rise I am unsure if my family will continue to use the pool. Just won't be worth it I'll go back to teaching my kids in a river where it's free. So they will loose my $700 a year.... council would be better off asking people to donate money to support their local pool infrastructure improvements rather then forcing everyone to support something they may not even use.

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  • I would say definitely not as we pay some of the highest rates in the State already and the revenue could be put to better use stalling some of these rate hikes.

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  • Our rates are already far to high. You should be looking at footpaths, kerbs, guttering and adequate street lighting which we don't have, especially in my area. I would think swimming pools would be a long way down on any priority list.

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  • You treat the residents of the shire as cash cows, Note for those running the council, we're not,

    We already see each and every resident in the shire with high cost of living expenses, why add to the burden? The shires senior population is increasing year on year and you want these people to give more?

    Do the council leadership team read the news? We are in a drought.... the Reserve Bank Governor, Philip Lowe said last night that the current drought has led to a fall in Australia's farm output and has seen a sharp drop in farmers income, how many farmers in the area do you think can afford a further increase to their already substantial rates and not to mention other high costs for feeding etc they pay each year?
    He also said the drought has lead to an upward pressure on all food prices for every resident in Australia, (BTW if you didn't know this includes our shires residents), and now you want to give each resident an increase in their rates and increase pressure on family income, for what? to upgrade under utilised assets, the council obviously doesn't know what is happening with the economy...

    Why dont you look at the bigger picture, use your Data and close down under performing assets and save the ratepayers some money instead of asking for it, a shire this size only needs at most 3 pools in the major centres.

    I think it is important to also remind the council that the current wage growth in NSW is only 2.3% and you want to increase the rates to 2.6% and add a further $140 on top of this and also on top of the increase in waste rates for 2019, what do you think will happen to the families in the shire? They will be put under more pressure to find funds to pay, they can't just request an increase from their employer like you can to the ratepayers.

    I wholeheartedly reject this Special Rate Variation and hope the council use their vast staff resources to provide the ratepayers a better option than to increase their rates.

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  • It looks like BVSC is proposing the easy, and lazy, option to fund its swimming pool deficit viz hit every ratepayer with an additional rate levy irrespective of whether or not they actually use these pools. Council quickly dismisses the obvious, more efficient and equitable, alternative of raising the already low, heavily subsidised, public admission charges, on the grounds that fee increases will deter usage. But that argument ignores the advantages of a properly structured user pays system - it forces customers to place a value on these public assets. If usage declines to uneconomic levels the pool should close. Why keep a pool at Candelo open, for example, when it attracts only 3,000 visits p.a , especially when pools at Bega and Merimbula are only a 20-25 min drive away - same for Bemboka.

    BVSC's rates are already amongst the highest in NSW - is it aimong for the gold record?

    So, my suggestion is to conduct a cost benefit analysis on each pool, close the underperformers and progressively raise admission charges towards a level that recovers around 75% (currently 40%) of basic operating costs, excluding major capital works such as renewals and upgrades. Clearly major works will still need to be funded from Council rate revenue, loans, Govt Grants and community fund-raising ((like the Pambula acquatic centre).

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  • Us older people in the community cant afford any more rate rises as we pay one of the highest rates in nsw rarther than tea and scones at the council be better managers of our rates or it sounds like a done deal.

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  • If some of the 6 pools are a financial liability, close them. And why does Council need to operate 6 pools. I find it interesting that the SRV was never mentioned in our rate notices or did Council what to limit this information.
    We have one of the highest rates in the State and what do we get e.g no bulk waste pick ups, no chemical pickups and the maintenance at our parks is well below par.

    Local Goverment Amalgamation must be considered. and don't use the old furphy of this will result in lessor services, look at what we get now!

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  • BVSC special rates variation proposal

    1 Very few people know of this proposal.

    2 Consultation process appears to be failing badly. Notes should have been sent out to all ratepayers with their rates notices for such a large impost on them. This
    includes the consultation on pools supposedly done last year, also unheard of
    by most.

    3 Biased having meetings only in pool location. Of course locals will say they want to keep their pool. A Tura / Merimbula meeting hasn’t occurred for a very large group of older citizens

    4 There are small populations in several of the pool towns e.g. Cobargo, Bemboka, Candelo

    5 Pensions and incomes are reducing drastically. Many Centrelink only and fixed income people are already stretched over the limit with many forgoing things such as adequate heating and giving up health insurance in order to survive. Many don’t have super.

    6 Higher rates of this nature will push up rents and make even more stores close with a likely on flow of job losses in our region. Ghost towns mean less visitors and less money going into our economy.

    7 This is a massive increase. (on top of fogo costs which many don’t use and cant opt out of)

    8 Rates are very high as is without this.

    9 Hard to find info on website. Links obscure and when the survey is finally reached,it is geared to just the people that use pools.

    10 Older people, of which Tura and Merimbula have many, often have no internet and don’t drive later in the evening to give their opinion at meetings. These are also right on many retirees mealtimes.

    12 Ongoing maintenance costs for 6 pools is too high on impost on non users.


    1 Ask state government for a grant for 2 new pools

    2 Consolidate. Consider keeping 2 current pools eg for Bemboka, Candelo
    to serve smaller populations.
    Have user pays for maintenance costs

    3 Community fund raise. E.g. summer music festival, Fun run, Bike-a thon,

    Swim-a-thon. Etc

    4 Private ownership
    e.g Gyms combine for a
    private pool useable by all. E.g. School lessons, Hydrotherapy, fitness classes etc.
    Have user pays system.

    5 Put note with full details of proposal in next rates notice to ALL ratepayers to make transparent consultation available to all.
    Convene a meeting for the large populations of Tura Beach and Merimbula

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  • In mid September under the guise of a “fit for purpose six pool aquatic strategy” council announced its proposal for an additional rate increase of 4.42% as a Special Rate Variation (SRV). This huge increase in rates is to fund six pools, we are told. Compared to the current inflation rate of 1.9% and Council’s already announced 2.6% rates increase – the pegged maximum - Council is proposing the SRV as a “one off permanent increase to general rate income”. Council takes pains to obscure the significance of the proposed total rate increase of 7.02%, year after year after year, by providing a “Rate Estimator” in its Webpage link to provide a dollar number for the rate increase, but not its percentage. That this money will always be spent on pools is also debatable.

    In its published “Have Your Say” Council states that for the Shire to have pools that are operating at modern standards, a “key focus” is to look at “the 6 swimming pools as a group and not as individual facilities”. Here the subterfuge continues; hiding the highly successful Aquatic Centre at Pambula, funded by the Community, Pambula Rotary and State and Federal government grants in among the shires five other seasonal regional pools, none of which are covered or heated. The Sapphire Aquatic Centre at Pambula comfortably supports a catchment from Eden to Bournda and Merimbula to Millingandi and Lochiel. Take Tura Beach as an example, our local pool is Pambula. This is the only heated and covered pool in our shire providing access 12 months of the year plus a gym and child minding facilities. With charges of up to $16 per day it is self-funding. The pool at Eden which opens only 6 months a year is simply not needed and certainly does not justify the large expenditure proposed for it to “operate at modern standards”. So what about the other four? Of these Bega, built in 1962 is scheduled for renewal in 2023 and is central to the other three. Bega is the obvious choice for renewal as a modern aquatic centre similar to Pambula. Council should not try to raise rates by subterfuge but look to construction of a modern aquatic centre at Bega utilising State and Federal government grant funding as at Pambula –and restricting rate rises as much as possible for its already heavily taxed residents.

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  • The elephant in the room is that BVSC spent several millions on the Bega Civic Centre yet most of the shire do not get the benefit. In fact the info on council;'s own website states that "The Civic Centre is a multi- function community space for people living in and around Bega". Many of us do not live in or around Bega but have been expected to foot the bill for construction costs and running costs.
    What is the annual running cost of this facility?
    BVSC needs to provide services throughout the shire, not just in Bega. BVSC needs to borrow the money to get the pools up to scratch and stop crying poor whenever it suits.

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  • A special rate variation(srv) if applied as proposed would be very unfair to our farmers as it is applied as cents in the dollar on the unimproved capital value of your land. Farmland in general has a much higher valuation than a residential block in a town. Surely our farmers are being hit hard enough at present.
    It would be unfair to commercial rate payers as they will be paying twice, firstly on their private home and then on their business at a much higher amount as commercial land in general has a much higher valuation than a residential block. Our commercial rate payers already pay an extra 13% on their general rates as a srv to support tourism in the Bega Valley.
    I consider that a special pools levy applied equally across the whole Shire while it will not bring in as much income could allow for a replacement fund to be set up for the future and some funding towards running costs. I fully support such a levy provided it is applied equally but only for future capital works at the pools.
    To completely remove maintenance of pools from the general fund budget is to me an abdication of basic duty by the Council to provide services to the community from the rates already collected each year.

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  • Rather than complain about the Council double-dipping, or failing to provide reasonable basic services at a reasonable rate; or even to hold a gun to the ratepayer's head and say "pay up or we close them", why doesn't the Council think outside the circle, and analyse the extraordinary costs - $2 million per year, and reduce them. At least some of the small pools have limited numbers of users. Establish a small local group to manage the pool in terms of maintainance. This will mean that the users pay, but in labour instead of cash. Let those who want to use it, do so for free. From what I can see it costs more money to get people to pay than is raised by by entry fees. Get the operating costs down, then approach the community again for say $25 per household. One additional thing. The "consultation process" is an awful joke. Unless, heaven forbid, Council was trying to tick the "community consultation" box, with their left hand while pulling the wool over our eyes with the other. Where are elected reps on this? They have a responsibility to all ratepayers, not just their bailiwick.

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  • YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING we haven't been to a pool in the last 30 years so why should we have to pay for something that we have never use or ever will it is hard enough to find the money to pay the rates now

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