Changes to mayor powers
The Minister for Local Government has announced the Victorian Government is set to introduce new powers for mayors to remove misbehaving councillors from council meetings.
Under the changes, mayors will be able to suspend misbehaving councillors from council meetings after two official warnings. The suspended councillor will not be able to return to the meeting and will not be able to vote.
In principle the MAV supports the intent of additional mayoral powers to improve good governance, however the consequences of a mayoral decision to exclude a councillor from meeting participation are unknown.
We will be raising these issues with the Minister for Local Government in February.
MAV Strategic Planning Meetings
The MAV's annual strategic planning process will commence in February.
Eight consultation sessions will be held across the state to provide an important opportunity for members to influence the MAV's work priorities and inform the development of our 2014-15 Strategic Work Plan.
Input and feedback from members is essential to ensure the MAV remains focused on meeting sector needs.
Sessions will be held in Wangaratta (4 Feb), Latrobe (14 Feb), Warrnambool (18 Feb), Melbourne (two sessions, 26 Feb), Yarriambiack (28 Feb), Geelong (3 Mar), and Bendigo (12 Mar).
Councillors, chief executive officers and relevant officers are invited to attend any of these meetings.
Email Gavin Mahoney or phone 9667 5564 or 0419 486 646 to RSVP.
MAV Hardship Policy Guidelines
Following a report by the Federation of Community Legal Centres into council debt collection practices, the MAV developed a set of financial hardship policy guidelines and toolkits to help councils manage hardship in their communities.
The MAV is grateful for the considerable input from councils through the MAV hardship working group, together with advocacy groups such as the Federation of Community Legal Centre, the Financial and Consumer Rights Council, Kildonan and Centrelink.
Through this process practical and targeted resources were developed to ease the stresses on councils and ratepayers.
For further information, contact James Cleaver.
Road safety news: Funding available for safer roads and roadsides
Councils can apply for up to $40,000 to provide safer roads and roadsides under the Victorian Community Road Safety Partnership Program (VCRSPP).
In addition to funding infrastructure improvements, grants can also be used to fund crash analysis and risk assessment, as well as training and capacity-building for council staff to conduct risk assessments and identify appropriate treatments.
Councils must submit applications by Friday 28 February.
For further detail please email Anna McDowall or call 9854 2242.
For information on the MAV’s involvement in road safety, including the VCRSPP and the TAC Community Road Safety Grants Program, contact James Cleaver.
Power outages awareness
The State Government is seeking to ensure all Victorians are aware of the possibility of power outages during summer weather conditions and what people can do to prepare.
Power outages are a serious matter for the general community - particularly for the elderly and vulnerable.
A Power Outages Guide has been prepared by the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.
The government has requested that all councils promote the guide on website homepages during January and February, and have provided artwork for promotion.
Regional councils to nominate public holiday
Regional councils will be able to nominate one full-day or two half-day local public holidays in lieu of Melbourne Cup Day.
The State Government has written to regional councils, agricultural and pastoral show societies, Victorian Agricultural Shows Ltd and Country Racing Victoria reminding them of their entitlements.
For those councils that choose not to nominate an alternative holiday, Melbourne Cup Day on 4 November remains the automatic holiday.
Regional councils that wish to request alternative arrangements for Melbourne Cup Day must do so at least 90 days prior to 4 November, or by 6 August.
Shared services initiatives
The Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO) is currently undertaking a performance audit of shared services initiatives across local government.
The survey aims to establish baseline information on the nature and extent of shared services.
Information about the number and types of shared services in each council location or type (e.g. inner-metro), and understanding success factors and identifying common barriers will provide valuable information for the sector.
We encourage councils to participate in this survey to ensure that sufficient information is collected to produce representative results.
The survey will be administered online and can be completed by officers across the council if necessary. It also includes a question for mayors.
It is designed to be as brief and simple as possible and has been tested with the councils involved in the audit.
Participants' answers will be confidential, unless consent is provided to link answers to your council's identity.
The survey will be sent to chief executive officers this month and the survey completion date is 5pm on 10 February.
Water Bill Exposure Draft
Following the Victorian Government’s release of the Water Bill Exposure Draft in late 2013, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries will host a series of forums around Victoria from 29 January to 7 February.
These forums follow a local government scoping workshop in December 2012 and a follow-up submission in mid-2013.
Significant outcomes for the sector include:
- Councils will have greater protections from liability for flows from council drainage assets onto private property, such as are currently enjoyed by water corporations. Councils will also be able to use the ‘resources defence’ in these cases
- In line with the State Government’s new urban water policy framework, overseen by the Office of Living Victoria, the Exposure Draft creates a new property right for stormwater. Councils will be able to store and sell stormwater to other users.
A copy of the explanatory guide is available online. For further details on the outcomes for councils, email James Cleaver or call 9667 5519.
Anzac centenary grants
Communities will commemorate the Anzac Centenary in Victoria through a range of community activities to be funded by the State Government.
Councils can apply for the Anzac Centenary Community Grants of up to $20,000 for projects that honour and share the stories of Victorian service men and women and their communities.
The Restoring Community War Memorials and Avenues of Honour grants program, which was announced last year, is still open for councils to apply for grants of up to $20,000.
The government will host an Anzac Centenary Seminar in Melbourne on 4 March to inform and inspire communities to develop and undertake creative and interesting projects that commemorate the First World War.
Council CEOs and elected council representatives are among those to be invited.
For further information call 1300 366 356.
VLGMIN bi-monthly meetings in 2014
The Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network (VLGMIN) lunch-time meetings will continue at the MAV in 2014.
Meetings will run from 12-2pm on 11 February, 8 April, 10 June, 12 August, 14 October and 9 December.
MAV has a close working partnership with the VLGMIN - an informal cultural diversity officers’ network that shares information between councils, advocates on behalf of councils and promotes best practice in cultural diversity.
Its members are local government officers responsible for multicultural services and cultural diversity policy development.
For more information please email co-convener Biljana Komnenovic or call 9239 5265.
Research partnership scheme
The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) at the University of Technology Sydney is inviting proposals for its 2014 Research Partnership Scheme.
The initiative provides opportunities for local government researchers in councils and related organisations to work with ACELG and other partners in undertaking research that will benefit local government nationally and build research capacity in the sector.
Partnerships of up to $20,000 will be offered to partners who can contribute at least $10,000 from their own organisation or from a third party.
Smaller projects will also be considered. As a general rule, preference will be given to proposals that match ACELG’s contribution in full.
For more information, contact Jessie Lymn, or call (02) 9514 8223. Applications close at 5pm, 14 February.
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