BAW Baw councillors have voted to end the shire’s membership of the Victorian Local Government Association.
In a general business motion at Wednesday’s meeting, Mount Worth ward councillor Murray Cook called for the council to immediately quit the peak body in response to the financial pressure of rate capping.
“We have to consider things very carefully, and after nearly three years on this council I’ve observed a lot of duplication between the VLGA and (similar group) the Municipal Association of Victoria,” Cr Cook told councillors.
“I think we could probably work enough through the MAV without being at pain for yet another organisation membership.”
A council spokesperson told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen the council spends around $14,000 per year on its membership to the VLGA.
Warragul ward councillor Mikaela Power was first to object to Cr Cook’s motion, pointing out the VLGA had arranged a meeting with councillors to discuss the issue.
“The reasons we have been given for supporting this motion is we have rate capping, that there’s duplication and that they’re talk fests (a point raised by Drouin ward councillor Terry Williamson),” Cr Power said.
“We do need to cut costs. This is not a good reason.
“The VLGA has agreed to come and speak to us and I would like to hear what they say.
“Looking at the differences, the VLGA was streets ahead of the MAV on providing information on rate capping. While the MAV has used its usual channels, it has not stretched itself.
“Action does count. As a female councillor and first time councillor they have provided a lot of advice.
“If we are to have a look at discontinuing our membership of one or the other, I personally think we should have a look at the MAV.”
Drouin ward councillor Tricia Jones said she was concerned the councillors might not be well enough informed to make a decision at the meeting.
“It’s true we have two peak bodies and I’m not 100 per cent sure of the differences,” Cr Jones said.
“I’m not sure about letting either go. I do feel I need to be very well informed before making a decision either way.”
Cr Cook latched onto Cr Jones’ comment while summing up.
“It’s interesting that Cr Jones wasn’t aware of any differences between the two, and that’s just my point,” he said.
“This has been on the table for a while. I’ve seen what they can and can’t do. The proof is always in the pudding and how you find something, not people coming to justify things in hindsight.
“I’m not happy with the way things are going which is why I put this motion.”
Cr Cook’s motion passed, despite Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy foreshadowing an alternative: that the decision be postponed to a future meeting.
“If this motion does not get up then I move we postpone this review to after the VLGA meeting, so long as they meet with us soon,” he said during discussions on Cr Cook’s original motion.
“As long as we deal with the review within six weeks.”
Correction: this article originally stated the council’s exit of the VLGA would be decided in future weeks due to Cr Murphy’s motion. Cr Cook’s motion passed and took effect immediately.
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