HIGH COST: The Gladstone Aquatic Centre (pictured) and Mount Larcom has cost council nearly $1m less to maintain in 2015-16.
HIGH COST: The Gladstone Aquatic Centre (pictured) and Mount Larcom has cost council nearly $1m less to maintain in 2015-16. Paul Braven

Public pool promises remain dead in the water

PUBLIC pools are notoriously expensive to keep afloat, but it's a service ratepayers expect in every town.

For years a group of people in Agnes Water have been petitioning the council to build them a new pool and since at least 2010 there has been the same interest at Boyne Tannum.

But Gladstone Regional Council has repeatedly stated it can't afford to build and maintain new pools as the existing facilities are leaking money to the tune of $660,000 every year.

Now as the local government elections draw closer the issue has resurfaced with some council candidates saying, if elected, they'll be heavily advocating for a new pool at Boyne Tannum.

It's been a year since the investigation into ways to reduce the costs of running the Gladstone Aquatic Centre and Mount Larcom Pool started.

In June the council took the plunge and handed management of the facilities over to private company Lane4 in a bid to cut down on wages.

By the end of June 2016 the deal will have saved the council $284,000.

However, the latest figures show the pools are still a financial burden on ratepayers and CEO Stuart Randle says that's unlikely to change.

The two centres' combined yearly earnings are $872,000 but cost $1.53 million a year to run. And that doesn't include depreciation on the assets worth another $600,000.

If the council committed to building a brand new pool at Boyne Tannum it would be looking at a construction bill of about $6 million.

And, according to Mr Randle, no matter what candidates say it's unlikely to happen.

"Public pools are like entertainment centres; they will never make a profit and that's why it's councils that have to build and operate them," Mr Randle said.

The council has previously put a block of land at Pryde St near the Tannum Sands State School up for sale while making it clear a pool was the preferred development for at least a portion of the site. There was no interest.

Mr Randle said there was also no interest when the council approached private businesses connected to industry.

"It's not a viable business model," Mr Randle said.