Town cops heat for pool installations

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Questions of the Town of Port Hedland’s spending were sparked on social media last week when it was revealed more than $100,000 had been spent on renewing and upgrading employee housing.

Local Hedland residents raised concerns over the financial decisions on Facebook after noticing pools being installed in houses owned by the Town of Port Hedland.

When asked about the pool installations, Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said the decision to upgrade Town assets had been a decision made by the council in the annual budget discussions.

“We are investing in our housing stock — this has not happened for many years and our assets are in a sorry state,” he said. “The Town of Port Hedland is undergoing a renewal program to ensure our assets are at an acceptable standard, amenity level and asset condition rating for our community buildings and staff housing.

“We believe that to attract and retain high-quality staff, and compete with other regional local governments and industry organisations, we need to offer acceptable housing packages to our executive employees.”

Mr Blanco said the Town had never spent money on significant upgrades to its housing portfolio and this financial year would continue to upgrade housing “until we get our assets up to scratch”. In the 2017-18 Annual Budget, the Town allocated $347,000 to the renewal program, but locals were not happy with the spend. One Facebook user, Jason Baxter, was disappointed in employee housing gaining a pool when the South Hedland Aquatic Centre had been closed for more than 12 months.

“Can’t fix our pool in South but the directors get new pools in their council house,” he wrote.

“The rest of us minions in South can just keep paying rates and waiting for our pool to be fixed.”

Mr Blanco responded to the complaints on Facebook by saying he was disappointed locals chose to voice concerns on social media rather than to the Town itself.

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