Under section 41 of the Local Government Act, the council must adopt and maintain a Councillor Expenses Policy in relation to the reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses for Councillors and members of delegated committees that:
- Specifies procedures to be followed in applying for reimbursement and in reimbursing expenses;
- Provides for the reimbursement of child care costs where the provision of child care is reasonably required for a Councillor or member of a delegated committee to perform their role; and,
- Has particular regard to expenses incurred by a Councillor who is a carer in a care relationship within the meaning of section 4 of the Carers Recognition Act 2012.
The current policy was adopted by council in August 2020. This is an opportunity for the present council to review the policy in the light of legislation and experience to date.
The policy reflects the legislative requirements of the Act and contains other sections that are in line with the requirements favoured by regulatory authorities such as the Local Government Inspectorate, VAGO, and the Victorian Ombudsman.
A recent review of the policy, provided the opportunity to incorporate recommendations from the VAGO Fraud and Corruption report and to:
- Strengthen the policy statement regarding integrity and public trust;
- Cover private and political benefit;
- Attendances at functions;
- Acquisition and returning of equipment;
- Insurances; and
- Audit and reporting.
The council is now seeking public feedback on the policy ahead of further consideration at a future council meeting.