The Andrews Labor Government will appoint a short term monitor to examine and oversee governance at Casey City Council, following the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into the mishandling of a special charge scheme to construct Market Lane in Narre Warren South.
Appointed under section 223CA of the Local Government Act 1989, the monitor will remain in place for between 8 to 12 weeks, reviewing the process and practices slammed in the Ombudsman’s report.
Councils are generally able to levy a special rate or charge to help pay for a service or project that will be of special benefit to a particular group of ratepayers.
In this case, the Ombudsman found a range of substantial failings, including residents being denied a right to object to the scheme.
The Ombudsman’s report made two recommendations to the Government:
- Amend special rate and charge provisions to remove any ambiguity, which will be investigated as part of the current review of the Local Government Act
- Provide guidance to councils on declaring special rates and charges to ensure consistency, which has been requested to happen within two weeks
Data publicly available on Know Your Council shows that in comparison to similar councils, Casey City Council makes a higher number of in-camera decisions, exacerbating the impact of failings identified in the report.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins
“The Ombudsman’s findings against Casey City Council are completely unacceptable – ratepayers rightly expect honesty and accountability from their local council.”
“We’re taking action so Narre Warren ratepayers get the transparency they deserve, and our review of the Local Government Act will ensure that also happens with councils right across the board.”