THE Moyne Shire Council will formally request financial statements from the Rural Councils of Victoria after last month questioning the lobby group's effectiveness.
The motion to request statements from 2010-11 and the current financial year was passed 5-1 with Cr Ken Gale, the group's incumbent chairman, declaring a conflict of interest.
Last month, Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas raised the idea of withdrawing from Rural Councils of Victoria (RCV) after attending a function staged for mayors and chief executives. Councillors Doukas and Bernie Harris told The Standard they believed the RCV conference was more focused on socialising than policy discussion after the meeting failed to resolve a long-running debate over farm zoning.
On Tuesday night, Cr Harris said despite personal efforts he had not been provided any financial reports covering the past two years of RCV spending.
"Rural Councils Victoria is funded to the amount of $3.3 million over four years from the state government, in addition to 38 rural council contributions of $76,000 in total," he said. "To think that an organisation with an annual budget of approximately $900,000 does not provide the financials to their membership is deeply concerning.
"We contribute $2000 a year and they do not provide anywhere the financials of any description.
"I've been told they are independent of the Municipal Association of Victoria, which I found astonishing and hard to believe.
"Tell me who gets all the money, where it goes, and what's the point of being in Rural Councils Victoria when the last few months they haven't had one iota of input in what has been put to the ministers." Cr Mick Wolfe said the RCV had responsibility and accountability to the 38 councils holding membership. "They're not responding at all, not providing information that any other government or private company with public funds would have to," he said.
"They knew we had concerns over it... and they didn't want to address it in any way or even try to respond and alleviate our concerns.
"Why should we have to do it as a formal motion?"
The discussion came immediately after Cr Colin Ryan requested a memberships and affiliations review.
Harris said the membership review was "long overdue".