Deputy mayor Ken Hardy tops expense list

By Sumeyya Ilanbey

Six Melton councillors claimed more than $16,000 in conference, seminar and training bills in a year, with one councillor accounting for almost half those expenses.

Ratepayers had to foot the bill for deputy mayor Ken Hardy to attend six events in the past financial year, totalling $7523, comprising:

•Victorian Local Government Association’s mayors and deputy mayors connect conference in February, 2018 ($1591).

•Australian Local Government Association’s 2018 National General Assembly of Local Government in June, 2018 ($2213).

•Contract Law Fundamentals in May, 2018 ($1494).

•Australasia Chinese Cities Summit and Business Forum in September, 2017 ($300).

•National Growth Areas Alliance conference in November, 2017 ($1116).

•Resilient Australia Awards in November, 2017 ($1109).

The mayors during this period, Sophie Ramsey and Bob Turner, spent $2263 and $2545, respectively.

Cr Melissa De Santis attended one conference for $364; Cr Steve Abboushi attended a conference for $2538; and Cr Kathy Majdlik billed for two memberships and one conference for $934.

Councillors Lara Carli, Michelle Mendes and Goran Kesic didn’t claim any conference, seminar or training-related expenses.

Melton legal and governance manager Christine Denyer said attending conferences and training played an important role in councillors remaining on top of issues.

“Council is committed to … providing training and development support for elected members, and the importance of them representing council in a variety of forums,” Ms Denyer said.

As part of Melton council policy, chief executive Kel Tori approves attendance for conferences and training “designed to improve the knowledge, skills, function and/or capacity of the councillor”.

Councillors Hardy, De Santis, Turner, Majdlik and Abboushi attended Municipal Association of Victoria conferences and training using a “credit points” system.

Ms Denyer said council purchased credit points when it paid its annual MAV membership and those points were used to pay for councillor attendance at association events.