In Australia there are three tiers of Government. Federal, State and Local Government. Councils provide essential services to their communities like roads, garbage collection, water, sewer, town planning and governance. The powers and responsibilities of local councils are derived from the NSW Local Government Act 1993 which is administered by the NSW Government.
Democratically elected members make up Local Government Councils and are elected every four years. Due to the NSW Government's Fit for the Future reforms which has resulted in the very recent formation of Armidale Regional Council on 12 May 2016 this Council is currently being governed not by elected representatives but by an Administrator until Local Government elections are held in September 2017.
Like all democratically elected governments in Australia, Councils have the power to raise revenue (partly through council rates) to maintain infrastructure and services and to regulate activities like development. Councils can also impose penalties if local regulations are broken.
The role that Local Councils provide has expanded over the years due to greater demand and expectation for services by their communities. Local councils provide valuable economic, social and environmental support for communities.
Whether a service is a legislative requirement of councils, or is provided by local choice, the Local Government Act requires that councils are responsive to the needs, interests and aspirations of individuals and groups within their communities.