The Mount Alexander Shire claims to not support bullying while two councillors quit leaving the shire mayorless this week.
Mayor Sharon Telford and Cr Tony Bell handed in their resignations following pressure after council voted to not fly the rainbow flag in support of the LGBTIQ community during the postal survey on same-sex marriage.
Cr Tony Bell said councillors voted to remain neutral regarding the federal legislation. He said as elected representatives of all ratepayers in the shire it wasn't council's place take a stand on same-sex marriage, yet council staff had publicly defied the decision by placing rainbow flags and posters in the windows of council buildings.
While the now former mayor has not confirmed or denied bullying was a factor in her sudden departure, fellow councillors are outraged at the abuse she suffered at the hands of council employees.
"The treatment by some staff has been utterly disgraceful ... bordering on harassment," Cr Bell said.
He said those acting against and abusing the mayor were disrespectful.
"We decided to remain neutral and the treatment of the mayor since then has been absolutely appalling.
"I'm not going to be embarrassed by council staff. They are thumbing their noses at councillors so I quit."
He said the mayor had been worn down by negative comments.
"Staff were totally rude to the point of bullying."
"It got to me the way she has been treated. Sharon was good for our shire. Her heart is in the shire but she wasn't supported."
Mount Alexander Shire councillors will vote to elect a new mayor next week. Council is awaiting clarification from the Victorian Electoral Commission on action to take in regards to replacing Cr Bell and Cr Telford.
"Mount Alexander Shire Council simply does not tolerate bullying of any kind. End of story," Council CEO Darren Fuzzard said.
Mr Fuzzard later said there was no question council staff must abide by decisions made by council. "It is a requirement of all of us who work for Mount Alexander Shire Council. As such, the rainbow posters in the windows of council buildings are being removed today (Thursday, October 12). This course of action has no bearing on our commitment to continue to work with the community."