Council seeks better returns

A new commercial sub-committee responsible for overseeing the management of Tasman District Council's forests, camping grounds and aerodromes is being formed to try to increase returns from the council's commercial investments.

However, concern has been expressed over who could be appointed.

The council has been concerned at the lack of returns from those investments and last month discussed the formation of a sub-committee to focus on its commercial enterprises.

The terms of reference for the sub-committee were finalised at a council meeting in Richmond on Thursday, but not all councillors were satisfied with the fine print.

Corporate services manager Murray Staite said the returns from the council's commercial properties "are not what you would be happy with" and that the sub-committee would have the expertise to improve those returns.

It would comprise of two councillors and three independently appointed members from the business community and would report to the council's corporate services committee.

However, councillor Jack Inglis said it would be critical to appoint the right independent members.

"This is one of the biggest businesses in the district and it could all turn to custard if we get the wrong people - then who's going to sort out the mess?" he said.

Mr Inglis was also concerned that the proposed remuneration for the three appointees, totalling between $10,000 and $20,000, would fail to attract the right applicants.

"Some of those executives would spend that much when they go out for dinner," he said.

There was also discussion about the length of the terms for the three people appointed, with councillors indicating the recommended terms were too long.

Councillors voted to change the length of the terms for appointed members from three, four and five years to two, three and four years.

The different lengths of the terms were aimed at ensuring there was a gradual roll-over of appointed members on the sub-committee, Mr Staite said.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne was happy with the decision to set up the sub-committee saying: "We needed a commercial focus for our commercial opportunities".

Councillor Judene Edgar agreed saying, "We know it is possible to get a good commercial return, so this is a really good step."

The council will now start the process of recruiting and interviewing potential candidates for the sub-committee.

The Nelson Mail