29 Oct 2018 Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Steve Kelly States low-interest finance to save ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars RURAL City of Wangaratta Council has secured a $6 million low-interest loan from the State Labor Government to pay for works up front connected to the 50 metre outdoor and hydrotherapy pools project at the Wangaratta Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre (WISAC). The cash injection was secured through the governments Community Sports Infrastructure Loans scheme and it is set to save rural city ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. A project go ahead for the pools was made possible with $1.5m from the State Government (hydrotherapy) in 2016 and $4.4m from the Federal Government this year, and this low interest loan will now pay councils share of the up-front cost. Its expected the interest rate on the loan will be about 1.5 per cent over 10 years, but council city chief executive officer Brendan McGrath said the terms are still to be negotiated with the department. That will save us many hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 10 year term its fantastic and were looking forward to getting on with it, Mr McGrath said. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) made the announcement on Friday at WISAC, saying it will be a centre of excellence for aquatic facilities, far superior to what anyone else has in country Victoria. Pools are incredibly expensive facilities for councils to not only build but also operate so to take this leap for the community of Wangaratta is going to benefit the whole region, Ms Symes said. It will open up the opportunity to host elite competitions, regional events and also give something for young people to aspire to in terms of reaching that top level. Leon Newton general manager recreation of YMCA, which manages the council-owned WISAC said the pool project has been a long time coming and hes honoured to be a part of it. Works will take 18 to 24 months once they commence and council is going out to tender this week. The announcement (of states up-front low-interest $6m loan) is very unique as it will allow this to come together in a more timely way than it would otherwise occur, Mr Newton said. With 360,000 visits annually to the facility, its only going to increase from this point forward. Memberships and casual patronage will grow and with the hydrotherapy pool in addition to the 50 metre pool, there will be no shortage of cohorts we can attract to the facility. From six weeks to 90 plus years old, there is going to be something for everyone and thats the beauty of a one stop shop this will only complement it further. Deputy rural city mayor Mark Currie said the facility will be the envy of a lot of regional cities. If you have a look at the sporting talent around Wangaratta its just getting better and better every year, he said. We have an older pool in Wangaratta but this will be more centralised with all the aquatic facilities located in the one spot which will make the running of the pools more efficient and economical, he said. The rural city council was one of 37 applicants who sought a share of the governments $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Loans Scheme.