Merri Creek Management Committee was set up as an Incorporated Association under the Victorian Associations Incorporation Act. It is not a statutory body and has no statutory powers beyond those that are provided to any Incorporated Association. This approach has a number of benefits and constraints:
Further information about forming an incorporated association can be found on the Department of Consumer Affairs (Vic) Incorporated Associations website, including model rules, standard forms and a series of information sheets. MCMC's rules are available as a PDF file here
A possible alternative structure for MCMC was discussed in 1995, the suggestion being that MCMC become a not-for-profit limited liability company. This was partly a response to Compulsory Competitive Tendering, introduced by the Liberal State Government, to allow MCMC to tender for work along the Merri Creek advertised particularly by its local government members. After investigation it was found that amending MCMC's rules allowed MCMC as an incorporated association to tender.
MCMC's structure chart shows the relationship between the MCMC's Committee of Management, its subcommittees and MCMC's staff.
In terms of taxation issues, MCMC has registered for the Goods and Services Tax, and has received an ABN (Australian Business No) and Tax File Number. The Australian Taxation Office has endorsed MCMC as an Income Tax Exempt Charitable Entity under section 50-B of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997which means that MCMC's surpluses are not subject to tax. The ATO has registered MCMC's Merri Creek Environment Fund as a Deductible Gift Recipient via the Register of Environmental Organisations, meaning that donors to the Environment Fund can claim the donation as a tax deduction. From the State Revenue Office, MCMC has been recognised as a charitable body and wages paid by MCMC are therefore exempt from pay-roll tax under the provisions of section 10(1)(bb) of the Pay-roll Tax Act 1971.
MCMC is based in a converted weatherboard house in East Brunswick 200m from the Merri Creek. Before MCMC rented the house from Moreland City Council the house was used by a Council after-hours emergency worker, and therefore had a large yard suitable for parking works vehicles and storing large numbers of plants. In the commercial market it was very difficult to find a suitably sized property to rent that combined office space with yard space and undercover storage for tools, herbicides and and other equipment. In the event, the double-garage which was on the site has proved inadequate, and additional sheds have been built to store the spray rig, water cart, herbicides, and to provide a spray washdown area with sewer connection which required a Trade Waste permit from Yarra Valley Water.