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Welcome to Ratepayers Victoria Incorporated, advocating for Collaboration, Accountability & Transparency. Our 2022 vision is a future where Victorian ratepayers are highly connected, value adding and  engaging to increase their councils’ and state agencies’ propensity to achieve higher council rates affordability and local liveability. Our blog highlights the latest news and issues affecting ratepayers. Visit our Facebook.

Council corruption and inappropriate behavior

When is enough enough

>Council corruption and inappropriate behaviour
1 Brimbank City Council

The Australian reported on 15 September 2009 the notorious ALP-controlled Brimbank Council has been dismissed by the state government after a new report found ongoing evidence of misconduct among its Labor-aligned councillors.

The inspector appointed to oversee the council following a damning Ombudsman’s report, Bill Scales, found councillors had mixed their personal business interests with council activities, leaked confidential information and improperly approached council staff. He also found the St Alban’s branch of the ALP – loyal to local numbers man and MP George Seitz – attempted to influence the council to reject a proposed site for its new headquarters.

The then Local Government Minister Richard Wynne said he would suspend the council and then introduced laws allowing them to be replaced by an administrator until new local government elections are held in three years’ time.

2. Wangaratta City Council

The Age reported on 18 September 2013 that The ‘‘dysfunctional’’ Wangaratta City Council will be sacked by the Napthine government because of rampant bullying and intimidating behaviour towards staff and councillors and waste of ratepayers funds.

Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell will introduce legislation to formally dismiss the Rural City of Wangaratta Council on Wednesday, which will receive bipartisan support.

3. Wyndham City Council

News.com.au reported on 27 November 2015 the call by Victorian MP Bernie Finn who told parliament Wyndham Council should be sacked because the bullying between Wyndham councillors behind closed doors has become so bad that one MP has called on the government to sack the lot of them.
But Wyndham Council chief executive, Kelly Grigsby, said the council took seriously its obligations to provide a healthy workplace and to protect councillors from bullying and harassment.
“Where there are issues relating to bullying or inappropriate conduct between councillors, these are managed by the Councillor Code of Conduct,” she said. “Councillors can lodge a complaint via the code to address alleged contraventions.
“Currently, the organisation is investigating matters relating to behaviour that is not in-keeping with the standards outlined in the code. “Given that matters are unresolved, it would be inappropriate to comment on specific details.”
She made clear there were no concerns regarding the governance of the council.
History proves the council is no stranger to the odd scandal.
4. Geelong City Council

The ABC News reported on 14 April 2016 that the Geelong City Council was officially sacked in the wake of a report that laid bare allegations of widespread bullying and dysfunction. Councillors, including high-profile Mayor Darryn Lyons, were removed from power after the Victorian Upper House passed a bill to dismiss the entire council.

5. Councillors failing to sign code the new code of conduct laws

The ABC reported on 15 August 2017 that more than 100 Victorian councillors to be sacked over code of conduct laws.

The Victorian Parliament passed laws in 2016 to clarify the behaviour standards required of councillors, and provide a better understanding of what was expected of their conduct in office. Councils had four months to renew their codes of conduct after the legislation came into effect on March 1, and individual councillors were also required to sign a form pledging to abide by the laws.

But the Local Government Inspectorate has ruled 107 councillors across 21 municipalities have failed to comply with those requirements before the set deadline. Whole councils in 13 municipalities, including Ballarat, Frankston, Central Goldfields and Greater Shepparton have been told they will be disqualified as a result. Individual councillors from another eight municipalities, including the City of Monash, the City of Moreland, Bendigo and the Southern Grampians Shire will also be sacked for failing to sign up to the new code.

6. Central Goldfields Shire Council
The Age reported on 23 August 2017 that the state government has sacked a central Victorian council over “extensive and disturbing” financial and governance failures, which follows the charging of its CEO last month.
The Andrews government introduced an emergency bill into parliament on Wednesday to dismiss the embattled Central Goldfields Shire Council and appoint administrators to run the shire until council elections are held in October 2020.
7. Frankston City Council.

The Frankston News reported on 10 September 2017 that the state government has stepped in to scrutinise Frankston Council with the appointment of a monitor to oversee council’s operations.

The government intervention comes after the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate highlighted concerns about governance at council.
The state council’s watchdog noted council public meetings have dragged on over several evenings this year, a meeting was cancelled due to a boycott by some councillors and there are also concerns about council spending not listed in council’s official budget.

Labor Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins announced on Sunday (10 September) she had decided to appoint a monitor to oversee council at the recommendation of the inspectorate.

Prosecutions of Councillors by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate

Website: https://www.vic.gov.au/lgi.html

The Inspectorate’s website shows that over the last 9 years there have been approximately 60 prosecutions. Of these 37 were candidates for council elections who failed to declare campaign donations or failed to provide correct candidate information. Councillors comprised about 18 of the remainder of the prosecutions and one related to a council officer. There appears to be an imbalance between prosecutions of council officers compared to councillors.

1. Protecting Integrity: investigation into the 2016 Wyndham City Council

During the council election period in 2016, the Inspectorate received several reports of concerning actions of candidates who nominated for election to Wyndham City Council. The most concerning reports related to allegations of bribery, unlawful nomination and deceptive conduct in the nomination process.

The Inspectorate, in the course of its investigations, found additional anomalies and determined it is in the public interest to broaden the scope of its investigations. The investigation did highlight three key themes which present as opportunities for improvement the process and perceptions of candidates. These were:
– ease of candidates to nominate,
– lack of understanding of the councillor role, and
– transparency of alignment by candidates.

2. Central Goldfields Shire Council investigation

In September 2016, the Inspectorate received allegations relating to activities at the Central Goldfields Shire Council and specifically in relation to the Chief Executive Officer. Those matters have been the subject of a thorough investigation and have since resulted in a criminal prosecution that is currently before the courts.

3. Councillor and officer cases prosecuted

(i) 2016- 2018
No councillors were prosecuted. Many of the cases in early 2018 relate to electoral candidates allegedly failing to submit a campaign donation return. (To comply with section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989, candidates must submit a campaign donation return when they receive any gifts or donations over $500, regardless of whether or not they are elected. Failing to do so can carry heavy court-imposed fines (up to a maximum 60 penalty units).

Chief Executive Officer of Central Goldfields Shire was charged in 2016

(ii) 2015
Cr Chris Smith of Colac Otway Shire Council pleaded not guilty to seven charges of conflict of interest and one charge of failure to submit an ordinary return under section 79 and 80A of the Local Government Act. All charges were dismissed.

Cr Ian Robertson of Central Goldfields Shire Council pleaded guilty to the charge under section 79 of the Local Government Act for failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Robertson was charged with allegedly voting on the 2012/13 Budget when he would have been aware of a potential conflict of interest related to his previous court costs being covered in a budget allocation. Cr Robertson pleaded guilty to the charge. Case proven with no conviction recorded and no fine imposed.

(iii) 2014
Cr Graeme Pittock of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was charged with failing to declare a conflict of interest in three council meetings. Cr Pittock was found guilty and ordered to pay $4,000 and prosecution costs. No conviction was recorded.

(iv) 2013
Milvan Muto a former Greater Shepparton City Councillor was found guilty of perverting the course of justice in the County Court and sentenced to eight month’s imprisonment. Prior to the matter appearing before the County Court, Councillor Muto was disqualified from serving as a councillor for four years by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for gross misconduct. Councillor Muto then appealed the VCAT decision to the Supreme Court which dismissed Mr Muto’s application to appeal the VCAT decision as there was insufficient grounds.

Mike Tyler of Casey City Council was charged with two breaches of the Local Government Act 1989 for allegedly failing to disclose a conflict of interest to the mayor in writing and to notify the council of the conflict of interest at the earliest possible ordinary council meeting. Mr Tyler received a 12 month good behaviour bond without conviction and was ordered to pay $1000 to a charity and $9000 in costs.

(v) 2012
Cr Shirley Cornish of Moonee Valley City Council pleaded guilty to charge of misuse of position and received 12 month Good Behaviour Bond and ordered to pay $8000 to the Local Government Inspectorate for by approving unauthorised payments and contract variations to former CEO. This was also subject to an investigation by Victoria Police.

Cr Paul Giuliano of Moonee Valley City Council pleaded guilty to charge of misuse of position by approving unauthorised payments and contract variations to former CEO and received a 12 month Good Behaviour Bond and ordered to pay $1,000 to Court Fund and $5,000 costs. This was also subject to an investigation by Victoria Police.

Cr Ian Robertson of Central Goldfields Shire Council was found guilty of two counts of conflict of interest. Based on evidence of good character and community service, the Magistrate did not record a conviction against Councillor Robertson who was placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond, ordered to pay a $4,000 donation to Maryborough Hospital, and pay the prosecution costs of $20,000. The breaches related to his lobbying and support for a significant road upgrade and paving project that effectively serviced his rural property.

Milvan Muto of Greater Shepparton City Council was required to take a mandatory leave of absence (suspension) from the role of councillor until a criminal charge of Blackmail was determined. In separate proceedings at VCAT the Inspectorate also sought to have a finding of Gross Misconduct made against Mr Muto. The criminal Blackmail charges related to witnesses in this separate matter.

(vi) 2012
Cr Belinda Clarkson of Nillumbik Shire was charged with two counts of breaching the conflict of interest over failing to declare a conflict and leave the meetings where she was the subject of the matter before council. The matter was dealt with by way of a contested hearing at the Magistrates Court where the Magistrate agreed there was a case to answer but, based on a legal interpretation, ultimately found in favour of Councillor Clarkson and the charges were dismissed.

(vii) 2011
Cr Andrea Marian of Ararat Rural City Council pleaded guilty to three Conflict of Interest charges with the more serious charge of misuse of position withdrawn. The charges resulted from Cr Marian making submissions on behalf of clients from her private business in matters that were before council Cr Marian was fined an aggregate of $10,000, to pay prosecution costs and was disqualified from nominating or acting as a councillor for 7 years.

Cr Lisa Price of City Council was found guilty on two counts of failing to declare interest and disqualified was from acting as a councillor for seven years and fined $9000 plus costs. Cr Price appealed the decision and the sentence was reduced to a 12 month good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded and Cr Price was allowed to continue to act as a councillor.

Unnamed Councillor of Greater Shepparton councillor admitted guilt to failing to declare a conflict of interest and then voted on the endorsement of a new member of the council’s audit committee at the July 2010 ordinary council meeting however, the member was listed on campaign donation returns as a donor to the councillor’s election campaign fund. The councillor acknowledged the conflict of interest and the matter was resolved through the Criminal Justice Diversion Program without conviction and a fine of $500 payable to the Shepparton Hospital oncology ward.

(viii) 2010
Cr Tas Athanasopoulos of Stonnington City Council. It was alleged that Cr Athanasopoulos was ineligible to stand for re-election in 2008 because he did not hold a valid entitlement to be enrolled as a voter in the City of Stonnington. Justice Hargrave found in favour of Cr Athanasopoulos who was permitted to continue as a councillor.

Cr Susan Nichols of Mildura Rural City Council pleaded guilty for failing to disclose on return documents her position as councillor for Wentworth Shire Council in NSW. No conviction was recorded and was placed on a 6 month good behaviour bond without conviction.

Cr Mark Eckel of Mildura Rural City Council pleaded guilty for failing to disclose that he was Vice President of Sunraysia Community Radio Association on return documents. Cr Eckel also worked as a paid radio announcer for the Association. No conviction was recorded, ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and costs and placed on a 6 month good behaviour bond without conviction.

Cr David Saunderson of City of Greater Geelong Council was found guilty and convicted of failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Saunderson voted on a matter involving supermarket developer Lascorp which had donated to his 2004 election campaign. He did not declare the interest. He was disqualified from acting as a councillor for seven years and ordered to pay $18,000 in fines and costs.

(ix) 2009
Cr Cameron Granger of City of Greater Geelong Council was found guilty of failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Granger voted in favour of a planning application from a developer who had donated to his 2008 election campaign. He did not declare the interest Guilty without conviction and ordered to pay $4,000 in fines and costs.

Council’s decision to compulsory acquire land

Ratepayers Victoria recently opened up a new branch in Bendigo and was asked for advice and assistance by our new branch regarding the Bendigo Council’s plan to compulsorily acquire the farm land of Carter family. RPV did write to the local government minister in April this year and did not get a response .RPV has also sent a copy of that letter to the Premier of Victoria.

On the 3rd July 12, 2018 RPV again wrote to the local government minister and expressed our concerns about the Bendigo Council.s decision to compulsorily acquire the farm land of some 300 hectares which has been in the family for five generations.
Our letter on the 3rd July to the minister was very strong with words such as “how can this happen in Australia” and did point out that at the forth coming State Elections that this situation will be brought up.

We Stated that council decisions such as this,tugs at the heart of fair minded Australians .
RPV did get a reply from the minister’s office two days later with the comment that the decision is now with the planning minister ,Richard Wynne ,for a decision.

RPV were pleasantly surprised to hear that on Tuesday the 10th July the planning minister announced that he had overturned the decision of the Bendigo Council and that the farm would remain with the Carter family.

RPV are not sure as to what impact we had on the planning ministers decision, but we are very pleased that justice has prevailed for this family.

As stated earlier, RPV are opening up more ratepayer groups to support our ratepayers and residents with their problems.
RPV are getting more and more results in their support of the ratepayer and again encourage you, your friends and neighbors to join your local ratepayer group

Jack Davis
President RPV

Bendigo Ratepayers Group proposed

https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/5045864/ratepayers-association-floated-for-bendigo/
Bendigo ratepayers association floated

Emma D’Agostino
November 9 2017 – 8:00PM

Aims of the proposed ratepayers group include holding the council accountable to its residents.
RELATED: Lack of lobby group hurting ratepayers
BENDIGO has been flagged as a city in need of a ratepayers group.
Ratepayers Victoria has informed members it “hopes shortly to open new branches in Bendigo, Shepparton, Wangaratta and Bairnsdale.”
The group aims to boost accountability and transparency in local governments, and promote collaboration between councils and residents.
Plans for a Bendigo sub-group are in the early stages.
Ratepayers Victoria vice president Frank Sullivan said he was arranging a meeting to gauge interest in the idea.
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The meeting is likely to take place next next month.
“The purpose of a ratepayer group in Bendigo is to give the ratepayers of Bendigo assistance and guidance, when required, regarding problems with their council,” Mr Sullivan said.
“It is accepted that where there is a ratepayer group that council seems to operate more smoothly.”
Feedback from the Bendigo community has informed the group’s plans to establish a sub-branch in the city.
But it is not yet known how many representations Ratepayers Victoria has received.
The city’s last known ratepayer group was the Bendigo Ratepayers Association of Council Scrutineers, which was operational from 2006 – 2008.
Its former spokesman, Martin Ruffell, told the Bendigo Advertiser earlier this year he believed ratepayers were suffering from the lack of a collective body scrutinising the council.
“I would suggest a ratepayers association is integral,” Mr Ruffell said upon learning about the proposed group
He believed an autonomous body holding the council to task would be beneficial for the community.
But Mr Ruffell had some advice to offer those who chose to get involved:
“Be aware you won’t be able to change the world as you like,” Mr Ruffell said.
“Even amongst a ratepayer’s association, you’ll probably have different opinions.”
In the absence of an association, Bendigo resident Michael McKenzie it had been left to individuals to scrutinise the local government.
“The way council operates, it’s fairly difficult to exert meaningful pressure [as an individual],” he said.
While the idea of a collective effort was agreeable to Mr McKenzie, fellow resident Ted Coleman was not convinced it would be effective.
“I don’t see the necessity,” Mr Coleman said.
“There are sufficient groups and individuals in place to keep council up-to-date.”

Mystery over $11.7m spend by Boroondara Council

Mystery over $11.7m spend

Boroondara Council has released some details of its digital revamp, but key questions remain, writes Rebecca Di Nuzzo

The council insists its spend of almost $12 million covers a “digital transformation” rather than just a website – but details of how exactly the money is being spent remain unclear. Picture: Wayne Taylor
Boroondara Council has revealed some competing tenders for its $11.7 million website — but remained tightlipped about the most lucrative part, awarded to Deloitte.
Documents obtained by the Leader under Freedom of Information reveal 15 contracts, some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, were doled out to companies under the council’s “digital transformation” project.
Two contracts, including one worth more than $600,000 for “website solution design, information architecture and content development”, and a $278,840 tender for “security performance testing”, cost more than the total amount spent by other Melbourne councils on their website overhauls, including neighbouring Stonnington, which spent about $350,000 in total.
The documents show the council mostly went with the cheaper option for the more minor parts of the project.
But it refused to disclose competing tenders for the priciest component — $9.5 million given to Deloitte for website “design, build, redevelopment, release and managed services” — because the tenderers objected to having their details revealed.
Money spent on the creation of eight eForms, which the council has repeatedly pointed to as being of great benefit to residents, was also not disclosed.
Paul Cousins of Web Initiatives said the open source system, Drupal, used by Deloitte to carry out the work, including merging six websites into one, was a free tool anyone could use.
He said he believed many of the other separate tenders, including for the development of eForm icons, could have been bundled in with Deloitte’s work, rather than farmed out as separate contracts.
He also added that from a “design point of view”, and without knowing what had gone into the back end of the project, he would have costed Boroondara’s new website at about $300,000.
“The website looks terrific, it looks good,” Mr Cousins said.
“I don’t know what value the community’s getting out of that. Clearly there would have been other options that wouldn’t have cost $9.5 million.”
Another expert, Renato Dayan of Light Media, said the cost of Boroondara’s web project was “extraordinary”, and his company, which had also overhauled council websites, charged “a fraction of that amount”.
It was difficult to tell whether the $9.5 million contract awarded to Deloitte was too much, he said, because the FOI document contained insufficient information about their work.
Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said the cost of the project was “ridiculous” and called for greater oversight on councils.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous the amount of money councils spend on contractors. The average minister has no idea what’s going on in local government,” he said.
And Balwyn North’s Ian Hundley said his request for a public meeting so residents could learn more about the project was “summarily dismissed” and the lack of transparency was worrying.
He also said the language used to describe the project in council meeting agendas was “opaque”, making it difficult to understand what was being delivered.
“I think there should be a process for an independent examination on this,” he said.
Earlier this year the Leader spoke to 12 other councils about their website projects, all of which put the cost at between $61,640 (Nillumbik) and $2 million (Darebin) and included work such as merging separate websites, the creation of eForms and maintenance.
Boroondara chief executive Phil Storer said the $11.7 million spend was an appropriate use of ratepayer cash and the project could incur further costs.
Almost 200,000 users accessed the site between January and March, he said, and it was “misleading” to compare the price of different council websites without knowing what each council had delivered.
The council also got new computer hardware as part of the project, he said, and the tender process ensured it got the best price.
Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz did not respond to the Leader’s questions last week.
It’s absolutely ridiculous, the amount of money councils spend on contractors
JACK DAVIS, RATEPAYERS VICTORIA
Rebecca Di Nuzzo
Progress Leader
June 12 2018

New Sale Ratepayers group

Ratepayers Victoria were recently requested to assist with the formation of a ratepayer group in Sale,(Wellington Shire council).
RPV Attended a call to hold public meeting in Sale on the 13th June 2018 with the purpose to set up a ratepayer group in that area.
Some 20 people attended this meeting which was compered by RPV(Vice President Frank Sullivan)
It was explained to those attendees that the benefits of having a Ratepayer group so ratepayers have somewhere to go to for advice and guidance regarding problems they are having with their council.
This is the sixth ratepayer group which RPV have set up in the last 8 months ,they been
Geelong – Bendigo- Shepparton – Warrnambool – Maribyrnong- Sale.
Ratepayers Victoria encourage you to contact your your local Ratepayer group as there are great benefits for the ratepayer to be a member.
Jack Davis President

Three public meetings

Warrnambool
Ratepayers Victoria recently visited Warrnambool to oversee a public meeting with the purpose of setting up a new ratepayer group in Warrnambool.
Some 60 people attended the meeting held on the 16th May 2018.
The driving force behind the meeting was Ann Vickery, a Local resident.
RPV did a local newspaper report some days prior to the meeting to tell the local residents when and where the meeting was and what are the benefits of a ratepayer group in Warrnambool.
Ann Vickery agreed on the night to be the coordinator to set up the new committee and the feedback from Warrnambool is that they are now up and running.
Any local residents who are interested in joining the group contact Ann by email vickeryann@hotmail.com or mobile 0408986302.

Maribyrnong council
Ratepayers Victoria will be attending a public meeting on the 30th May, 2018 at the Dream Factory, 90 Maribyrnong Street, Footscray between 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
It would seem that the meeting has been called by a group of concerned residents about the operations of the Maribyrnong Council.
At present there is little or no accountability at council level and RPV hope to change that.
At a conference held by RPV for our ratepayer groups around Victoria, a theme was adopted at the conference “enough is enough”
Come along to this meeting it is your council and have your say. Apathy is our worst enemy.

Wellington Shire Council
Ratepayers Victoria have been requested to oversee a public meeting in Sale on the 13th June 2018 with the purpose to form a new ratepayer group in Sale which is the Wellington Shire Council
The public meeting will be held at the “Mary Field Hall” in Petit Drive, Sale near the railway station at 7.00, RPV will be doing an article for the local newspaper to publicize the meeting shortly.
Yes, it is your council so come along and make your council more accountable. RPV feel that our ratepayers are saying “enough is enough”
Vice President Frank Sullivan
Contact 0438 555 805

Metro Council’s :where all the money goes:

Council———– Staff Expeniture—-Total expences——Wages % of all expenses
Banyle———— —67,3109————–144,669——————-46.40 %
BAYSIDE—————44,890—————111,145——————-40.40 %
BOROONDARA—– 91,951————– 217,103——————-42.40 %
BRIMBANK————–86,851—————196,153——————-44.20 %
CARDINIA————–34,800—————111,053——————-31.30 %
CASEY————-126,302—————319,922———————-39.50 %
DAREBIN————82,287—————165.653———————-49.70 %
FRANKSTON——–71,984—————154,524————————46.60 %
GEELONG———–155,210—————354,546– ——————-43.80 %
GT DANDENONG—78,813—————179,60—————————43.90 %
GLEN EIRA———-72,481—————163,366———————-44.40 %
HOBSONS BAY——–58.564—————120,627———————-48.50 %
HUME—————–114,594—————240,394——————-47.70 %
KINGSTON———–79,960—————187,175———————-42.70 %
KNOX—————–70,837—————159,530——————–44.40 %
MANNINGHAM———55,049—————117,803———————-47.50 %
MAROONDAH———-57,063—————132,689———————-43.00%
MARIBYRNONG——–59,167—————132,665———————-44.60 %
MELBOURNE
MELTON—————58,166—————169,622——————–34.30 %
MONASH————–76,496—————171,265———————44.70 %
MOONEY VALLEY—–84,038—————155,618———————–54.00 %
MORELAND————90,392—————174,579———————51.80 %
MORNINGTON———75,785—————210.816———————-35.90 %
NILLUMBIK———–33,909—————-85,466———————39.70 %
PORT PHILLIP——-96,974—————221,012———————-43.90 %
STONNINGTON——–64,995—————149,373———————-43.50 %
WHITTLESEA———89,483—————196,690———————-45.50 %
WHITEHORSE———77,620—————169,791———————-45.70 %
WYNDHAM———–139,275————–328,540———————–42.40 %
YARRA—————-82,260—————177,162——————–46.40 %
YARRA RANGES——-69,117—————167,896———————-41.209 %
TOTAL—————-2,447,523————-5,586,447——————-43.81 %

Up grade not finalized

Victorian Ombudsman Report 2018

Victorian Ombudsman Report
Investigation into Wodonga City Council’s overcharging of a waste management levy April 2018
The three Rs of local government are, famously, roads, rates and rubbish. While all three feature regularly in complaints to the Ombudsman, this case concerns ‘rubbish’ – or more specifically, a waste management charge levied by a local council in which over 30 per cent of the revenue raised was used to fund services other than waste management. Wodonga City Council raised some $18 million surplus over the last decade through this charge – money that was indeed spent on council services, such as parks and playgrounds. But not on waste. As every ratepayer knows, councils raise funds for general services through rates. While the council argues it has been transparent, did the average ratepayer in Wodonga really know they were paying extra in waste charges to subsidise other council services? Or when they received their annual rates bill and saw the line item for waste management, did they think they were paying solely for this essential service? The council said it acted in good faith, believing the practice to be compliant with the Local Government Act, and that they consulted the community. I accept that the legislation does not explicitly require the council to recover only its reasonable costs. However, the intent is clear. And our investigation found they maintained the practice, among other things, to avoid ‘unnecessary negative public reaction which may result from shifting the charges [to general rates]’. A widespread adoption of this approach creates the risk that councils could charge ratepayers an arbitrary figure for waste services, to be used on anything related to council activities, while avoiding the scrutiny that invariably attaches to rate rises. While this practice long pre-dated rate capping, it raises issues about how revenue is raised, in an era when far greater transparency is expected of government. Although the council suggested the waste charge is ‘revenue neutral’ for ratepayers, as the money would have been recouped anyway in some form, this misses the point. As Local Government Victoria pointed out, funding council services through a flat fee also raises issues of inequity and regressive taxation, as it is unrelated to a person’s capacity to pay. Rate capping – which has been in effect since July 2016 – does put financial pressures on councils, especially rural councils with a smaller rate base and, often, ageing infrastructure. But those financial pressures need to be faced head on, in partnership with their communities, rather than buried in the financial fine print. The financial pressures on councils and their communities are likely to increase with the latest developments in recycling household waste. All the more reason for councils to be open and transparent with ratepayers about the true costs of a service. I am pleased this council has accepted my recommendation that they reduce their waste management charge to only recover the reasonable cost of the service provided. But 72 of the 79 Victorian councils have separate waste charges, and I encourage them to satisfy themselves that the charge reasonably reflects the service provided. To do otherwise is to undermine the public’s trust in how their money is spent.
Deborah Glass Ombudsman

Corruption in local council’s

Corruption in local council’s
Whitehorse council $150.000 for Council 20th birthday Party Herald Sun 28/7/2014
Herald sun 27/7/2014 Wyndham Leads councils in suit over unpaid Rates
Herald sun 28/7/2014 Knox Councillor John Mortimore didn’t Sign Conflict of interest declaration when giving $500 of ward funds to Newspaper he edits
Cr Robertson of the central Goldfields shire was charged with 2 counts of offences in 2012 following the incident and was found guilty of abusing his position. Ratepayers hit with $70,000 bill to cover guilty Cr Robertson legal expenses.
Monash Leader 21/10/2014 Monash Council proposes to sell Hanover st carpark to build a 7 storey development, public outcry, project abandon.
Herald sun 2/11 2014 ACMA clears Today tonight of any wrongdoing over its coverage of Monash council’s plans to sell age care homes. Today Tonight stated that council was Sneaky and heartless.
9/2014 Rpv letter to council. Wellington Shire hard stand on ratepayer over no payment of rates due to extreme hard ship.
Herald sun 17/9/2014 Moreland Council ; Mayor’s Shameless excuse over failed CCTV installation exposed after the Jill Meagher case.
Mornington Leader newspaper 16/12/2014 Mixed views on call for capped rates at Mornington Peninsula Shire.
Ipswich Council Minister to stand down, Mayor (labor member) stood down over fraud charges
Monash Councillor Guilty of Sexual Harassment / credit card fraud, proven by the Federal Police
Monash Councillor wastes $2 Million trying to sell public open space 90 % ratepayer opposed the sale.
Monash Councillor provided false information in council in regards to hall management, committee sacked, later proven false by council audit
Brighton Council accused of fraudulent book keeping By George Reynold’s
Mornington Council Suing the MAV for $1 million over insurance.
WODONGA Council. Class action Extra $9.1 million for waste collection
The Ombudsman department stated they were not impressed with Mildura MRCC It was clear they were abusing the system.
Sister Cities are nothing more than holiday destinations for councillors
Municipal Association VICTORIA ( MAV) receive $52million of rate payers funds each year and growing, AND DO NOT REPRESENT RATEPAYERS.
Mildura Rural City Rates Collected by Council (MRCC) increased by 50.2% Wages/ salaries increased by 42/% Inflation increased for the same period 17/%
Wodonga the Ombudsman revealed an $18 million overcharge over a decade This has lead to a class action by ratepayers.
3AW Melbourne 13th May 2018 Ratepayers victoria calls for more accountabilty in council’s
The list goes on and on where is the Minister for local Government????

Lawyer says culture ‘toxic’ at Wodonga

Boder Mail ;
Sophie Boyd 27/4/18

Lawyer says culture ‘toxic’ at Wodonga Council and class action possible
Wangaratta lawyer John Suta, and a senior solicitor at Shine Lawyers confirmed Wodonga Council has opened itself up to a possible class action by ratepayers, after the Ombudsman revealed an $18 million overcharge over a decade.
Shine Lawyer’s senior solicitor Tristan Gaven said he was interested in holding a town hall meeting to inform residents about their rights.
“We believe there may be a basis for a class action based on a claim for restitution by the ratepayers,” Mr Gaven said.
Ratepayers were overcharged thus bringing financial loss and damage on ratepayers – it’s ratepayers money not councils.
Wangaratta lawyer John Suta on a potential class action against Wodonga Council
While there may be issues in relation to limitation periods for amounts paid more than six years ago, in the event that an action was successful, ratepayers would be entitled to recover all charges that were held to be invalid by the court plus interest.”
Mr Suta told The Border Mail one of his clients, who worked as a strategic asset manager from January 2007, complained about the actions of senior staff to the Ombudsman.
“My client made a complaint to the Ombudsman under an alias, as at the time they were still employed by council,” Mr Suta said.
“The complaint was basically that (they were) overcharging for waste services above the cost of the services, subjecting the community to excess charges and inflicting a financial cost on ratepayers.”Mr Suta said ratepayers, as a whole, were overcharged by $3.37 million in 2015-16 alone and $3.033 million in 2016-17 at an individual cost of $90.90 to each ratepayer in 2016 and $74.99 in 2017, Mr Suta said.
“What council did was they undertook a course of action where there was significant financial cross-subsidisation from waste to other departments, which obviously was not the real cost to service,” he said. But, he said, it was up to the public to decide if they wanted to take action on principle.
“Ratepayers were overcharged thus bringing financial loss and damage on ratepayers, it’s ratepayers money not council’s,” he said.
“It could place a principle financial burden on council, but transparency should override the financial burden on council, never mind the fact of public trust.”
Mr Suta said former employees at council say the culture is “toxic”, and said resigning was “absolutely the right thing” for Wodonga chief executive Patience Harrington to do.
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• Ratepayers deserve better than ‘excuses’ from council: Tilley
• Councillors break ranks, claim issue ‘much worse than anything we’d been told’
• Public was misled and council failed to be transparent: Councillors
• Wodonga Council’s ‘intent was clear’ in overcharging for waste, says Ombudsman


• President Jack Davis Ratepayers Victoria states the buck stops with the CEO and calls for the dismissal of the CEO CR Harrington