Tourism strong in tough season

A bumper tourist season has been the bright side of an overall challenging 2016 for the Dorset municipality, Mayor Greg Howard believes.

Cr Howard said 2016 was one of the toughest years in recent history for the council, with irregular weather patterns such as dry spells and heavy rain affecting farmer’s crops.

He estimated crop losses and reduced production in dairying and grazing to be in excess of $20 million, magnified by the drop in the dairy price.  

Cr Howard said newer tourist destinations such as Barnbougle Dunes and the Blue Derby bike trails continued to attract larger numbers compared to previous years.

The council’s 2015-16 annual report details the Dorset Council’s achievement of a second consecutive surplus, recording in excess of $1.5 million – which will benefit residents and visitors in 2017.

The $1.5 million surplus was slightly more than the $1 million surplus for 2014/15, which Cr Howard said has been achieved by the removal of senior management positions over time.

“The surplus will be around about a million this year.”

Council’s remuneration statement showed five senior management roles, with each one on a different salary starting from $80,000 to $220,000.

Expenses decreased by $208,000, while recurrent income decreased by $3.3 million and capital income by $33 million.

The report found capital grants and contribution income decreased by $302,000 to $3 million – which relates to one-off capital projects.

These included federal funding of $1.5 million for the Roads to Recovery project and $1 million for the North East Mountain Bike Trails.  

“We’re still doing major redevelopments on the Legerwood, Ringarooma Road, so hopefully we’ll get a start done, and whether it will be this financial year certainly before the end of 2017.

“We hope to get a start on the western access road into Bridport.”

He said depending on Dorset Council’s success in applying for loans through the Northern Economic Stimulus package, there may be other major works on streets in Bridport and Scottsdale.