WODONGA’S city councillors have been told it “would be prudent to accept and work with both recommendations” made by the Ombudsman on its waste fee.
Council chief executive Patience Harrington has given the advice in a report to be presented at Monday night’s meeting.
Last month Ombudsman Deborah Glass found the council acted improperly by spending income from its waste management charge on services that were not related to garbage.
She recommended the council, in three years, cuts its charge to only recover reasonable costs tied to refuse.
Local Government Victoria was also urged by Ms Glass to push for a change in legislation that results in charges that reflect the realistic outlay for providing rubbish collection.
Ms Harrington calls for “the ombudsman’s recommendation relating to Wodonga’s waste management service charge be implemented within two years”.
She also recommends the council work with the Essential Services Commission and Local Government Victoria to address the fallout from the Ombudsman’s findings.
Ms Harrington’s last recommendation involves requesting the Municipal Association of Victoria to advocate for a change to the Local Government Act.
In her report, the CEO argues the council had been upfront about the application of the waste fee.
“Almost all of the information included in the Ombudsman’s report was already in the public realm,” Ms Harrington states.
“Indeed the extent of the transparency is evident in the June 30, 2016 article in The Border Mail, with the headline ‘Cash being made in trash’ with Wodonga Council proactively publicising how the surplus was used to provide environmental and other core council services.”
Ms Harrington also sets out a timeline in her report stating when the Ombudsman’s investigation was raised with councillors following the 2016 election.
Some councillors have claimed they were kept in the dark during the probe.
Meanwhile, the council is set to adopt its budget.
The meeting agenda does not include details, with information to be provided on Monday night.
Under capping, the city is only allowed to raise rates by a maximum of 2.25 per cent.
The council has missed its opportunity to apply for an exemption this year, but the city plans to establish a reference group which will consider that option in 2019.