An increase in the price of gas of 220 per cent will leave Sutherland Shire Council’s three leisure centres facing a bill hike of $500,000 a year.
Gas provider AGL told the council of the increases last month which will mainly affect the three leisure centres which are the highest uses of gas for its pools.
The shock price increase has forced the council to consider a number of options to cope with the increases including increasing user charges, decreasing heated pool temperatures and charging school students for learn to swim classes.
Theree seven options council staff have recommended to adjust to the price hike.
Option one is increasing user charges by around $1 to $1.30 a visit.
Option two is to decrease the temperature of heated pools by one-degree. As the temperature of each pool is set at a different level. This would see the temperature reduction of its indoor pool from 37 degrees to 36 degrees and its outdoor pool form 26 degrees to 25 degrees.
Option three is to reduce the council’s subsidy to the Department of Education. The council allows the department a discount for the entry of school children into learn to swim classes at the leisure centres. Local government provides the pool hire fee and entry fee per participant for free.
A report by the council staff recommends the council adopt these three options.
Another four options will go out for public consultation.
These are limiting the hours of operation of its outdoor pools. For example, the 25-metre outdoor utility pool at Sutherland could be closed and covered from 9am to 3pm on weekdays in winter, saving an estimated $10,000 a year.
Another option is closing down one of the outdoor pools in winter which could save the council about $200,000 a year. The council will ask residents first how they feel about any potential winter closure.
Two further options will to investigate generating additional income such as opening an additional cafe and expansion of the fitness centre.
The council could also look at energy efficiency systems including using solar.