VALLEY pools could be left dry due to their ongoing drain on resources.

At a Clarence Valley Council committee meeting yesterday, councillors discussed the potential closure of pools across the region, following revelations they cost ratepayers more than $1.3 million a year.

Mayor Richie Williamson was adamant the community needed to have a say in the future of its pools before any decision was made, but said closures were not off the agenda.

Ulmarra and Glenreagh, which cost $62,728 and $57,846 a year respectively, have been earmarked as potential targets.

"It's a significant cost that the community may well be happy to fund into the future, but that cost will be significant as the assets age, so if the public are happy to pay they need to be aware the subsidy will be in the order of $1.3 million a year," the Mayor said.

Cr Williamson put forward a motion to defer any decisions to the ordinary council meeting next week.

He said the issue deserved more than just the normal process of putting a proposal out to public consultation and he hoped public meetings could be organised in Ulmarra and Glenreagh.

"I don't want to circumvent what that decision may be but I do think we need to hear what the public have to say," he said.

Cr Jim Simmons pointed out the pools at Grafton and South Grafton were costing ratepayers $783,000 a year and asked if there was any interest from the private sector to take the pools on.

He said he did not want to see all of the pools in the Valley amalgamated into an aquatic centre because of the negative experience he witnessed in Lismore.

The report put to the council divided the amount each pool costs the council by the number of people using them each year.

For Grafton pool, every swimmer is subsidised to the order of $20.76. In South Grafton the figure is $13.14, $17.02 in Yamba and $6.85 in Maclean. This compares with $38.46 in Ulmarra and $44.09 in Glenreagh. The report said the cost to the ratepayer of maintaining the pools was above industry benchmarks, with the exception of Maclean pool. Cr Williamson said Ulmarra pool needed capital works and ratepayers had to decide if they were willing to pay.



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