A REPORT unveiled by the Local Government Inspectorate has revealed serious misconduct at Yarriambiack Shire Council.
The report revealed staff private use of rate-payer funded equipment, the unauthorised sale of plant equipment and consumables and leasing of staff vehicles by council.
Depot employees confirmed that cash in hand or gifts were being swapped in exchange for private works.
The cash and gifts were going to a depot social club but no formal records of the transactions exist.
The Inspectorate also "substantiated that prior to July 2017, staff regularly used council equipment but it was unregulated and not recorded."
Read the full report:
Employees also rented out private equipment to the council, profiting from the arrangement, but the Inspectorate found there were no formal contracts detailing the arrangements and no tender process had been undertaken.
"The General Manager of Infrastructure and Services explained that he was not really aware of these types of hiring arrangements as they typically emanated directly from the Hopetoun depot," the report stated.
The council has also been paying for the registration and insurance of a cherry-picker belonging to the Hopetoun Depot that has not been in its possession for an unspecified period of time.
Allegations were raised with the Inspectorate that the cherry-picker had been sold and the profits distributed among depot staff.
The report made over 50 recommendations, which chief executive Jessie Holmes said the council was committed to implementing.
"We're developing an action plan which will become public in mid-December as to how we're going to action the 53 recommendations," she said. "It will be published quarterly to make sure we're meeting the requirements.
"We want to make sure what we do is embedded not just on paper but it's a practice that everyone follows. We want to raise the governance maturity across the organisation. We know we have to be better and we're committed to doing better."
She also said the issue within council was one of complacency rather than corruption.
"If it was corruption we'd have IBAC here," she said. "Really what it was was complacency, and we just didn't stay contemporary.
"We didn't update our IT, our policies and procedures, asset management or financial management."
Ms Holmes said the council had already receive community feedback.
"People are mostly disappointed, honestly," she said. "It's anger, it's frustration, but overwhelmingly it's disappointment."
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