City of Melville: financial burden of State Govt inquiry unknown for up to 12 months

City of Melville: financial burden of State Govt inquiry unknown for up to 12 months

WHO will be responsible for the financial burden of the inquiry into the City of Melville might not be known for 12 months.

Local Government Minister David Templeman announced in November about 300 complaints against the southern suburbs council, made over the previous three years, had triggered the “authorised inquiry” and a thorough examination by a representative from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC).

In a short statement to the Melville Times, a spokeswoman for the DLGSC said the department was presently funding the process.

“The inquiry is currently being undertaken within the Department’s existing resources,” she said.

But the bill could be put back on ratepayers, depending on the findings.

Under the Local Government Act, the Mr Templeman may order the council to pay all or part of the costs of the inquiry if adverse findings are uncovered.

This decision will be made at the conclusion of the inquiry, which the Minister has flagged could take as long as 12 months.

The Department would not say how much it expected the process to cost, but Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey suggested it could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially as high as $1 million.

One element of a lost motion put forward at Melville’s general meeting of electors in December called for all costs of the inquiry to be at the department’s expense.

With the Act in place and the Department declining to comment, it is unknown how much weight the motion would have held if it had got up.

Mr Aubrey said it was not unusual for councils to pick up the bill, but was still surprised the motion was voted down.

He said City officers were already working with the examiner.

He was hopeful the review would show where the 300 complaints were coming from and how credible they were.

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