A senior Warrnambool City Council officer has resigned after a review of credit card usage.
Chief executive officer Peter Schneider said in a statement to staff, seen by The Standard, that visitor economy manager David McMahon had resigned effective immediately on Monday afternoon.
Mr Schneider said Mr McMahon, who has worked for the council for more than two years, had made "significant contributions" to the city's visitor economy.
"When David arrived he had some major challenges and opportunities ahead of him: a new events strategy, the retirement of Fun4Kids, key personnel changes and a major upgrade of Flagstaff Hill being among them," he said.
"In particular, David and his team should feel proud of the new events strategy.
"Developed in-house and with the community, it has paved the way for more events to be supported across the entire calendar year.
"I would like to thank David for his efforts during his time with council and wish him well."
The Standard asked the council about credit card spending last week after independent journalist Carol Altmann revealed details obtained through Freedom of Information requests.
The council confirmed it had 81 cards and their use was restricted to work-related expenses.
In a statement to The Standard, the council said in September last year its internal financial checks and balances prompted some queries over purchases made on a council credit card.
"A subsequent review by council of the expenses on the credit card considered whether a number of purchases, while relating to council work, were reasonable and complied with council guidelines," the statement said.
"As a result of the review and with the participation of the relevant council officer, a number of purchases were immediately repaid by the cardholder."
The council said its credit card policy, which was under review at the time, was amended to become more prescriptive.
"Some of the expenses on the credit card highlighted recently related to food purchased for council activities including advisory committee meetings," it said.
"As with all other councils, Warrnambool City Council has advisory committees and works with members of the community to help deliver on the objectives of the council plan and W2040 long-term community plan.
"Meetings with the committees, community groups and other stakeholders are scheduled at various times of the day - including outside normal business hours - in order to maximise meeting attendance.
"Council believes it is appropriate to offer people working with council refreshments or in some instances a meal while they are assisting the city.
"Often those working with council are being diverted from their usual home or work commitments for the benefit of the city."
The statement said the council also promoted the city's visitor economy.
"These activities are designed to benefit the visitor economy and, as with most promotions and marketing, there are associated costs," it said.
"The community should be reassured that council has checks and balances in place to monitor compliance and ensure that the way we operate provides value for ratepayers' money."
The spokesman said the council had a credit card policy which was an internal policy.
"Reasonable use includes procurement that aligns with the plans and strategies of the council," a spokesman said.
"Typical credit card limits apply along with the restrictions on the use of cards, for example, no cash withdrawals.
"The limits on each card are in line with the requirements of the council officer's position.
"It is important to note that credit cards are used because they are an efficient and cost-effective method for the purchase of some goods and services that were historically paid for using cheques or transfers.
"The procurement rules apply regardless of the method used to pay for goods and services."
The spokesman said no interest was paid on the credit cards.
"The cards have simply changed the way council pays for some goods and services, they have not increased the spending on goods," he said.
"All spending - regardless of the payment method - must be in line with council plans, strategies and policies.
"Council seeks to have a balanced budget every year.
"Council constantly investigates ways in which it can be more efficient."
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