The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River will forge ahead with plans for its own in-house swim school at the same time councillors are seeking to make access cheaper to families. The financial cost of the contentious new plan — which could end up hiring a private operator upset about her own swim school’s future — was shrouded in uncertainty amid stalled changes introduced last Wednesday night. Recreation Centre leaders were enacting a long-held ambition for the shire to run swimming classes at the centre it owns, in line with standard practice in leisure centres across the State. Classes would kick off next year, once the pool reopened this December. But shire president Paula Cristoffanini introduced a late amendment that she later voted against amid confusion about exactly how the new service would operate. Cr Cristoffanini’s plan involved a fortnightly membership option for families undertaking swimming lessons, giving them free access to the pool for ongoing practice. Corporate and community services director James Shepherd said the proposed amendment came at short notice and he was unable to confirm the implication of the changes to the overall cost. During the discussion, standing orders were suspended and confused councillors later elected not to support the change. Instead, an amendment was made to reduce the agreed $17 swim class fee to $16 and other options could be explored later. In July, the Times reported Margaret River Swim Academy owner Roberta Williams was incensed by the proposal as her businesses risked closure if the shire undertook its own classes. The shire report even suggested hiring the academy’s swim teachers as a way to recruit adequate staff to meet demand. However, an open briefing session before the council meeting heard Ms Williams might bring her expertise to the local government program instead. Mr Shepherd said recruiting workers had to follow a transparent process, but the academy owner was “well placed” for a job. With shire-run Gnarabup beach swimming lessons included, the officer’s report forecast almost $343,000 in first-year income, with costs of about $133,500, meaning profits of about $192,000. The report also noted in 2020-21 the shire made about $56,000 from attendance fees and lane hire from private swimming classes. It was unclear what effect the proposed membership scheme would have on the projected earnings for the shire-run scheme.