By Jessica Micallef
A Hume councillor has labelled a council function, that he says was paid by using ratepayers’ money, as “self-indulgent” and “out-of-touch with reality”.
Hume council held a civic reception last Wednesday night to mark the results of the recent council election and to recognise the priorities of the new four-year-term.
Jacksons Creek ward councillor Trevor Dance, who did not attend the event, said councillors were allocated eight tickets for family and friends and more than 125 people were invited to the event.
“They’ve [councillors] already had their night of nights when they were sworn in and because family couldn’t be there, they wanted to have another night,” he said.
“They are … going along for a free feed, drink and a three-course meal.
“It’s out-of-touch with reality with what’s happening in the real world.”
Cr Dance said he requested council donate the money for his ticket allocations to a Jacksons Creek ward charity.
Cr Dance said his tickets were given away to other councillors within an hour of his request.
“I wanted my bit to go towards homeless people in the community,” he said.
“Give them a free feed, people who need some joy at this time of year. Then ratepayers’ money is actually going to help someone and is not for self-indulgence.
“Rates keep going up but we’ve got all these unnecessary expenditures.
“You run for council to do a job, not to get all these freebies and go to functions. It’s wrong.”
A Hume council spokesperson said the civic reception was budgeted through the council’s annual processes and was endorsed by the council.
“Under the Local Government Act, an individual councillor is prohibited from directing the council or organisation on how funding is to be allocated,” the spokesperson said.
“Traditionally, the dinner is held on the night of the statutory meeting and mayoral election, however due to COVID-19 restrictions, this was postponed until December 2.
“These long-standing events are an important recognition of the signification contribution of outgoing councillors, who this year have more than 50 years of combined service.”