SUPPORTING LINKS: Ipswich.qld.gov.au/community/grants_ sponsorships/community-donations-program Ipswich.qld.gov.au/community/grants_sponsorships Qt.com.au/news/council-discretionary-funds- capped-after-misuse/3889990/ Ipswich.qld.gov.au/community/grants_ sponsorships/community-donations-program Ipswich.qld.gov.au/community/grants_sponsorships USING COUNCIL FUNDS TO PURCHASE AUCTION ITEMS Not all of the $1.4 million each year of the discretionary funding pool was used for donations to community organisations. An issue uncovered by the CCC was that some former elected representatives used funds unethically to purchase memorabilia and auction items. One former mayor was subsequently convicted as a result of fraud- related charges. Not only was this a blatant breach of council policy and more evidence of poor governance, the record keeping for the items was poor or non-existent with very little information about how much they were bought for, who they were purchased from, or when they might have been bought. Your council is now in possession of more than 1,300 individual pieces apparently bought or received by former mayors and a number of councillors. Ratepayers’ money was used to purchase bought items, including numerous signed sporting memorabilia, artwork, barbecues, traditional gifts, toys, clothing and merchandise. Many gifted items were not recorded in the gift register. The CCC has only recently finalised all the referrals of potential corrupt conduct by a number of former councillors in regards to the purchase of auction- related items and memorabilia. As some items were deemed to be potential proceeds of crime, your council has been unable to make a decision about what to do with these items.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers was engaged to facilitate a comprehensive report to: Review all of council’s current grant and funding categories, including policies, procedures and processes; Undertake stakeholder engagement across council; Undertake a benchmarking exercise against comparable local governments; Consider current funding amounts, e.g. too high or insufficient, and whether further investment was required in particular areas; Draft a whole of council policy, procedure and guidelines document;
Make recommendations regarding staff resourcing requirements for ongoing management of council grants under a centralised model; and Consider the appropriateness of council’s funding approval processes.
NOW A report based on the findings and
recommendations of the review undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers will be presented for council consideration soon. Council is also considering community advice to simplify the process for applying for council funding. Community members can expect grant applications to be treated with fairness and equity under the watchful eye of an independent panel. A transparent process will ensure value for money, and that events are spread evenly throughout the city. It will be easier for community groups to apply for funding. Council staff are now expected to ensure that money spent under grants programs is accounted for. They will document and publish the reasons why each grant is approved or otherwise, and present findings to an independent panel for approval, before being presented to the mayor for final sign-off. The incoming mayor and councillors can expect clarity and transparency when viewing criteria attached to grant applications. A smaller pool of discretionary funds will be available, with strict criteria surrounding the use of this money. There will be a gift register, and record keeping of all finances will be compulsory.
Your new councillors will have the task of deciding what is done with the remainder of these items.