Moira Shire Council will be placed under the microscope with Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell instructing Executive Director of Local Government Nick Foa to step in and “provide advice” to councillors and staff.FIONA BLICK March 4, 2014 3:25pm
The last time Ms Powell made this directive it was for the troubled Wangaratta Council which was then sacked after the same Executive Director made his recommendations to the Minister.
Moira Shire Mayor Peter Mansfield and acting CEO Peter Bertolus were summoned to a meeting with Ms Powell on Monday and the Minister spoke with the Yarrawonga Chronicle prior to the meeting saying she was “concerned” over allegations of poor behaviour by councillors and council staff.
"The community expects high standards of governance and behaviour of both councillors and council staff,” Ms Powell said.
“I will be meeting with the Mayor of Moira Shire Council today (Monday) to express my concern regarding the continued allegations that the council is not acting in a manner consistent with community expectations."
Cr Mansfield told the Chronicle on Monday morning he and Mr Bertolus would be meeting with Jeanette Powell but denied any knowledge of what the meeting would be about.
“I have no idea what the agenda of the meeting is,” Cr Mansfield said.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Inspectorate also confirmed there had been objections made against Moira Shire Council and said “the inspectorate has received information about potential offences under the Local Government Act and is currently reviewing the information”.
Directly after the meeting Ms Powell told the Chronicle she “requested that the Mayor and acting CEO meet with me to respond to and resolve concerns raised by the community about council’s ability to provide good governance”.
“The Mayor responded to a number of issues I raised with him and has asked for assistance from my department,” Ms Powell said.
“As a result, my Executive Director of Local Government Victoria will be shortly visiting the council to provide advice on appropriate councillor conduct and governance matters.”
Cr Mansfield also spoke to the Chronicle after the meeting saying “it was a very positive meeting on both sides and we are moving forward”.
“As the mayor I was very comfortable with this meeting, it went very well on our behalf,” Cr Mansfield said.
Moira Shire Council’s internal structure has taken a battering in the past six months beginning with the departure of Chief Financial Officer Adrian Pawar, who left citing a “toxic work environment” and “widespread financial mismanagement”.
Further to this, in sensational developments in October last year then CEO Gary Arnold’s tenure abruptly ended after councillors upheld a vote of no confidence at the ordinary meeting.
Mr Arnold’s sacking came on the back of the sudden departure of Director Shire Development and Liveability Paul Squires.
Council’s only response to the issue has been a one sentence statement confirming Mr Squires finished his employment with council on October 14, 2013.
In further drama, the shire’s audit committee was suspended in September last year, only to be reinstated less than two weeks later.
There has also been continued debate and stalling on a starting date for the Independent Probity Audit and most recently Moira Shire’s financial risk assessment has deteriorated, moving from low to medium concern, according to the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO).
Released at the end of 2013, VAGO’s report showed out of the six financial sustainability categories Moira Shire only recorded two low risk results, with a further three in the medium risk and one, the self-financing category, was considered high risk.
Moira Shire recorded the highest self-financing risk figure out of all large shire councils which indicates VAGO is concerned Moira has “insufficient cash from operations to fund new assets and asset renewal”.
In addition, Moira Shire recorded the third highest indebtedness rating for large shire councils in the state and also recorded the worst liquidity ratio.
Shepparton Art Museum director Kirsten Paisley has resigned to take up a plum role at the as deputy director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
The Yarrawonga Pigeons have secured an important victory over Wangaratta Rovers to reinforce their position in the top 5 of the Ovens and Murray Football Netball League ladder.
Tatura Community House held its annual High Tea fundraiser at the facility on Tuesday, with a full-house present to enjoy a sumptuous morning tea, good conversation and relaxing time together.
You would think a 20-goal hammering of Mathoura by Picola league leaders Strathmerton at the Bulldogs’ kennel would leave coach Mick McInnes frustrated in the extreme.
With the footballers dressed in their (mostly) pressed suits and the netballers in stunning gowns, the Elmore Football and Netball club looked set for a good time.
Friday night draw at Bluebrick
Nagambie Healthcare wants the wider community to use its gardens.
Finley School of Arts and Memorial Hall are deteriorating with white ants damaging the foundations.
Hundreds of district part-pensioners could lose out as a result of the Federal Government’s unfair pension cuts.
Kinder kids in Cobram learn about dental health.
An exciting three-hole playoff saw Virginia Lange take a narrow win in the Deniliquin Ladies Golf Championship last Thursday.
The Victorian Winter Fair will be held in Bendigo on July 1 and 2.
Free legal services for people in Benalla are at risk with cuts to federal funding likely to have an impact on service provision, a legal service says.
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