OUTGOING Wangaratta mayor Rozi Parisotto has maintained her rage at the handling of her council’s sacking by Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell.
Cr Parisotto yesterday strongly disputed some of the reasons given by the minister as to why the council was dismissed.
Among the justification for Wangaratta being the first Victorian regional council to be axed was it had failed to complete crucial flood recovery and mitigation works and experienced difficulty recruiting an acting chief executive officer.
“This (flooding) issue has never been placed before the council,” she said.
“We were able to appoint an acting CEO of the calibre of Kelvin Spiller, who is highly respected in local government, within a few weeks.
“The minister has publicly stated the failure of governance is failing to pass a budget, council plan or attracting a quorum for meetings.
“On all of these levels council has complied without any difficulty.”
Cr Parisotto was speaking at a media conference yesterday attended by councillors Paul O’Brien, Julian Fidge and Col McClounan, Mr Spiller and other staff members.
She accepted the minister’s decisions, but remained angry she learnt of their fate via media.
Mr Spiller had attempted to contact the minister last week about how council would be informed of the decision and wasn’t given a response.
“It is a tragic day for us all and this will haunt us forever,” Cr Parisotto said.
“We weren’t even on the media alert sent out and it was very disappointing to be treated that way.
“I was expecting to be informed about when she was going to make the public statement and if there was an opportunity of right of reply.”
Cr Parisotto and councillors were not privy to the report compiled by municipal inspector Peter Stephenson before it was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
She said shortcomings in the Local Government Act, including the inability to sack individual councillors, had contributed to the drawn out and costly saga.
“It doesn’t provide ready and simple solutions to address problems in a speedy and efficient way,” she said.
“This has added enormously to the cost the minister has referred to that our community has to bear.
“These constraints lead to all elected representatives being penalised by association.
“I urge the minister to immediately address these problems before another council becomes a victim to the same problem.”
Cr Parisotto also returned fire at council’s critics since it came to power.
“This council has never been allowed to govern without major criticism by former mayors, former councillors, faceless businesspeople since its election,” she said.
“Unfortunately these criticisms have given undue credence by the media.”