Dorset general manager given ‘authority’ on Blue Derby trails

Dorset Council general manager Tim Watson was handed complete authority to negotiate financial contributions to the Blue Derby trail network at September’s council meeting.

Mr Watson now has the ability to negotiate sponsorship, advertising and event contributions to the Blue Derby trails, without council approval.

The Dorset Council has power to impose fees and and charges for the use of the bike trails, however the council does not charge everyday riders to access them.

The tracks cost $80,000 a year to maintain, with Break O'Day Council providing $25,000 of funding towards upkeep costs.

An increase in revenue from rates of $15,000 was recorded in the last year, which made up the Dorset ratepayers’ contributions to the trails. 

This leaves a $40,000 shortfall that the council seeks to make up with sponsorship revenue, advertising revenue and financial contributions from events that use the trails.

A report written by Mr Watson described the current process of collecting this extra $40,000 as inefficient. 

“It is clearly impractical and inefficient for officers to bring each commercial arrangement to a council meeting for a formal decision of council,” it read.

“To clear up any ambiguity around this issue it is therefore recommended that the general manager be given delegated authority to enter into commercial arrangements concerning contributions towards the maintenance costs of the trails.”

The motion to grant Mr Watson financial control over the trails was not carried unanimously – councillors Lawrence Archer and Sheryl Martin voted against the motion.

Cr Archer said handing sole responsibility to Mr Watson was not good governance.

“I don’t think that it should be up to one person, and up to management,” he said.

“It’s not a matter of whether you trust management, it’s a matter of whether it should be set on a sound basis and discussed among councillors before the fees are set.

“I think everybody who's going to use them would like to know that the fee they will be charged will be even across the board.”