The Victorian Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell has encouraged Victoria’s newly-elected Mayors and Councillors to embrace the Victorian Government’s plans to improve Councils’ transparency and accountability.

Mrs Powell said 42 of Victoria’s 78 Mayors are serving their first term as Mayor, while 302 of the 631 Councillors – including 11 of the new Mayors – are newly elected Councillors.

Speaking at the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) Essential Mayor’s conference on the Mornington Peninsula, Mrs Powell said dealing with the sector’s challenges will require leadership, resilience and inspiration.

“Mayors have a leadership role on their Council, an important relationship with their community and the responsibility to provide the vision and direction for their municipality,” she said.

“In 2013, the Coalition Government will focus on improving how Councils calculate differential rates and report on their financial performance. A system of performance reporting for local Councils will be developed and introduced over the next two years which will provide residents and ratepayers with a better understanding of how their Council operates.

“Ratepayers will be able to see how their rates are being spent and if they’re getting value for money,” Mrs Powell said.

In response to community concerns, a Differential Rates Ministerial Committee is leading a consultation process before Councils determine budgets for 2013-14.

The VLGA function was attended by 29 Mayors, six of whom are newly-elected Councillors.