Responsibilities of local governments
Local councils are responsible for a wide range of services for their local communities.
Every council will provide different services, depending on the needs of their local community and the resources they have.
Areas of responsibility
Specific areas of responsibility for local governments include:
Roadworks: Councils must build and repair local roads, control traffic, and provide adequate parking facilities;
Public works: Councils build and maintain parks, public buildings such as community halls and Scout halls;
Waste disposal: The job of disposing the community's waste is very important. In order for this to happen the council organises for the waste to be picked up and taken to dumps where it is becomes landfill or recycled. The council also ensures that the footpaths and all other public places are clean
Planning: This involves ensuring that new buildings and houses develop in a coordinated and well planned way. Council develops plans on how the built environment should be developed and sets rules on enforcing these plans. When a new building is being planned, for example, council permission must be obtained before the building is erected.
Recreation: Facilities, such as libraries, playing fields, golf courses, tennis courts, and the Town Hall and community centres are all provided by the local council.
Public Health: making sure the community is healthy is partly the responsibility of the council. They do this by providing public toilets, making sure public places, including restaurants, are clean and ensuring pets are registered and returned to their owners when lost.
Not every council does all of the above activities. Different councils do different things, depending on what their community wants and how much money that particular council has.
How are councils paid for their services?
In order for councils to fund their operations they need to raise money. They do this by charging taxes to local residents. These taxes are called rates and are charged to owners of land in the local area. Other funds come from fees for parking and other sources such as recreation entrance fee charges, for example the money you pay to visit the local swimming pool. Local councils also receive money from the federal and State governments.