Sporting ground charge flicked

A proposal to charge for the use of sporting fields and facilities in the shire was quickly knocked on the head by Tumut Shire Councillors on Tuesday.

Council staff put forward a recommendation to charge junior sportspeople $15 and adult athletes $20 to use the sporting facilities.

Charges would have applied per sporting club, so a child playing cricket, rugby league and participating in Little A’s would have been up for an extra $45 a year under the plan.

The council estimated it would raise about $26,000 through the scheme, based on 1100 junior athletes and 500 adults contributing.

There was some support among councillors last year for a fee but the new council was quick to wash its hands of the idea.

When the recommendation came before the council on Tuesday night there was no mover, apart from the mayor, Cr Trina Thomson, who said she was prepared to move the motion “for the purposes of discussion”.

But there was no seconder at the council table, and so the recommendation to charge sports users lapsed, and, in a rarity, didn’t even need to be put to the vote.

Because there was no motion on the table, there was no debate, and it was left to Cr Scott Stevenson to sum up the feeling of councillors.

“I think the idea of charging people to use sporting fields shouldn’t be on our agenda at all,” Cr Stevenson said.

“One of the purposes of a council is to provide these facilities.

“I think it’s completely out of order for us to even consider it.”

The report to councillors noted that the council would incur criticism if it went ahead with the new charges, but that presently ratepayers were subsidising those people that use public sporting facilities.

The report also pointed to fitness groups that generate income from using the free facilities.

While councillors wouldn’t consider implementing charges, the Shire’s sports committee, comprising representatives from the region’s sporting groups, has previously backed the move, on the premise that any monies raised would be put back towards improvements at sporting grounds.