An announcement on a Central Goldfields Shire impropriety investigation is expected within days, according to Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins.
Ms Hutchins said the Local Government Inspectorate had “taken the lead” on the inquiry, with documents seized and staff interviewed over the past week over the serious allegations.
“I do have concerns going forward,” Ms Hutchins said.
The minister also said the results of an Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) investigation into a Ballarat City Council senior officer accused of misappropriating funds had yet to be released.
“I will be briefed on it as it happens but it has not yet been finalised.”
Ms Hutchins was in Ballarat to announce a $125,000 organic waste-to-energy system to power community buildings that will be a collaborative effort between six shires.
Hepburn Shire will receive $50,000 from the New Energy Jobs Funds to develop a micro-waste to energy power station business case.
A further $75,000 will be provided to Ballarat, Central Goldfields, Macedon Ranges, Mount Alexander and Pyrenees Shire councils to work together on ways to use the power station across the region.
“This is an ... investment proposal to generate power from organic waste,” Ms Hutchins said. “It will save money for the councils and attract investment to the region.”
Hepburn Shire chief executive officer Aaron van Egmond said the project would have a major regional impact and minimise ratepayer costs. “This technology is very prevalent in European countries but we have been lagging behind in a sense,” Mr van Egmond said.
Ms Hutchins said, since taking up the local government portfolio, she had been pushing for better transparency, particularly through reviewing the Local Government Act.
Ballarat City Council has recently come under fire for approving overseas and interstate trips for councillors and officers but often with no cost, dates or personnel included in officer reports.
“With expenditure you need to be very transparent, with travel in particular,” Ms Hutchins said.
She also reminded residents Ballarat City Council had chosen postal voting so the make-up of the new council would not be known until at least five days after the Friday, October 21 local government election voting cut-off date.
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