HORSHAM Rural City Council could reduce the frequency of its meetings.
Chief executive Sunil Bhalla has recommended the council meet only once a month.
While its ordinary meetings are currently scheduled for the first and third Monday of each month at 5.30pm in Horsham, Mr Bhalla suggests the council meet on the fourth Monday of each month, with briefing meetings on the first and second Monday of the month.
Councillors will debate his proposal tonight.
Horsham council is the only regional city – of the 10 in Victoria – that meets more than once a month.
Mr Bhalla said reducing the number of meetings would mean significant cost savings and efficiencies.
“In the current rate capping environment, it’s important that council continues to find cost savings and ways which it can work more efficiently, effectively and strategically,” he said.
“Fewer meetings with a more extensive agenda will mean significant savings and more efficient use of resources.”
Mr Bhalla said less frequent meetings would also provide officers with more time to address issues, questions and concerns raised by councillors in briefing meetings and finalise reports.
“Preparations for council meetings were labour intensive and at times there are minimal agenda items, largely due to the frequency of meetings,” he said.
“It will also improve the work/life balance for councillors and staff.”
Cr John Robinson said he was concerned having less meetings would mean less opportunity for the community to understand the work of council.
“I would be interested to hear from other councillors on how we can get to a position where the community has confidence in us while reducing the frequency of meetings,” he said. “We are a $50 million organisation meeting once a month to serve the community – maybe we haven’t got that right.”
Cr Mark Radford said less meetings would lead to better efficiency. He said councillors would have two briefing meetings, which meant they could be more informed.
Cr Josh Koenig said the recommendation was worth considering.
Cr David Grimble said the council needed to consult the community before any change was made.
Cr Les Power said he was concerned councillors would have a less proactive role. However, he said he would be interested to see the change over a trial period with the chance to resume fortnightly meetings if the trial was deemed unsuccessful.
Mayor Pam Clarke said it was bad governance to state a position in the media prior to the debate because councillors would go into the meeting with a closed mind.
Cr Alethea Gulvin was contacted for comment.