VICTORIAN Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell is expected to decide the fate of Wangaratta Council next week.
Mrs Powell could even travel to Wangaratta to make the announcement given Parliament is not sitting next week ahead of its resumption on September 3.
Mrs Powell has the report compiled by municipal inspector Peter Stephenson after he spent the past three months at Wangaratta.
While a decision is pending on Wangaratta Council, the future of key management personnel including chief executive Doug Sharp and directors Ray Park and Ruth Tai remains unclear.
The three are all on stress-related leave.
Julian Fidge, the councillor at the centre of the governance issues which have gripped Wangaratta since last year’s elections, will return to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an earlier-than-expected appeal into a two-month suspension.
The appeal has been set for September 16.
Cr Fidge this week won a stay of the original decision handed down by a councillor conduct panel which found he made multiple breaches of the councillor code of conduct.
He was ordered to attend five counselling sessions as part of the strongest possible sanction the panel could hand down.
But confusion surrounds who the respondent will be at the appeal.
Cr Fidge initially named the panel, chaired by Roger Batrouney, as the respondent, but he declined to appear before VCAT this week.
The most recent order listed Wangaratta Council as the respondent.
Meanwhile, the council is trying desperately to project a “business as usual image” ahead of the minister’s decision.
Mayor Rozi Parisotto has launched a program to better understand the needs of the local business sector, dubbed the Mayoral Business Engagement Tour.
“The aim of the tour is to visit a cross-section of businesses from throughout the municipality to obtain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges being faced,” Cr Parisotto said.
The businesses range from small farming enterprises through to medium and large industry.