While councillors accept a rate increase would make life tougher for ratepayers, the majority have supported a special rate variation (SRV) for the maintenance and upgrade of the shire's six pools.
At Wednesday's meeting Bega Valley Shire Council passed a motion stating it would inform the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of its intention to apply for an SRV that would be introduced in increments over three years from 2020/21.
The only councillors against Cr Tony Allen's proposal were Jo Dodds and Mitchell Nadin, with the latter saying now was not the right time for a rate increase for "luxury" items, as the economy was slowing, wages were stagnating and council had greater priorities such as maintaining roads and bridges.
"Here we are, throwing everything we can at one asset class," he said.
Also, he said public consultations undertaken by council showed 54 per cent of respondents were "vehemently opposed" to an SRV.
After he raised the issue of user fees, director of assets and operations Anthony McMahon said the pools did generate an income through visitations, but if fees were increased to generate a greater amount for maintenance there would "be a point where affordability of access" undermined the pools' use.
Also, after Cr Nadin asked whether council could apply for more grants to fund the pools, Mayor Kristy McBain said council had applied for grants for the Bega pool as requested by Bega MP Andrew Constance, but they had not met the required criteria.
Cr Dodds said the Bega Valley was "oversupplied with swimming pools" against its population number which made the assets expensive, and retaining all six pools would come at the expense of offering the community other options that were cheaper to maintain, such as bike paths.
After the meeting, she said she wanted to be clear the shire needed pools and she wanted as many residents as possible to have the opportunity to use pools and all of the activities they offered.
"I think we've looked at this dilemma as a black and white decision - keep six pools and apply an SRV, or close pools," she said.
"I suspect the best outcome is somewhere in between those two points."
But during the meeting Cr Allen urged councillors to support the rate increase for the future of the community.
"In terms of having a vibrant shire where our children, our young ones want to stay and work here... we've got to have modern facilities," he said.
"It's a tough call.
"[But] by putting it off we're only passing the buck to the next council."
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After the meeting, council was asked how much the rate hike would cost the average ratepayer.
A council spokesperson said as the approved motion was different to the original recommendation to introduce the SRV in one year, staff were working to produce updated financial modelling for the three-year incremental introduction.
"The 11 per cent rate overall increase (including the rate peg) which was presented in the recent public consultation period was for a one-year introduction in 2020/21," they said.
Council will notify IPART of its intention to make an application later this month and the full outline of the rate increase will be presented to council on December 11 before going on public exhibition.
In early February, a final decision will be made whether to lodge a formal application to IPART.