Mildura Councillor Jason Modica has been suspended for 2 months and is ineligible to chair a delegated committee until July after engaging in serious misconduct, a conduct panel has found.
The councillor conduct panel reprimanded Cr Modica and ordered him to make an apology to the council, alongside the suspension.
The Chief Municipal Inspector applied on 5 August 2022 for a finding of serious misconduct against Cr Modica under sections 154(2) and (4) of the Local Government Act 2020.
During his one-year term as mayor, Cr Modica failed to declare a conflict of interest on three occasions in 2021 relating to a planning application for the use of land for rural industry in the municipality.
The alleged material and general conflicts arose due to Cr Modica’s sister living opposite the property and operating, without a permit, a similar business to the subject of the planning application.
A hearing took place on 6 November and the decision announced by the panel on 14 February.
Chief Municipal Inspector Michael Stefanovic said: “Councillors need to disclose conflicts of interest and remove themselves from making decisions where conflicts may arise. This demonstrates that councillors, as well as senior staff and committee members, are not using their role to gain benefits for themselves or others.”
“It improves transparency and helps people trust their council in making fair and impartial decisions.”
Local Government Victoria has published the decision on its website.
The Inspectorate recently published a fact sheet to help councillors recognise and disclose conflicts of interest.