Key council documents
Councils are the only level of government to consult their community when developing a Council Plan and annual budget. These key documents are published on each council’s website.
Public consultation processes are an important opportunity for community members to voice their views about local priorities that their council should consider.
Key council documents include:
A council identifies the community needs and local issues to be dealt with in a Council Plan every four years following local government elections.
This Plan is a statutory requirement which describes the objectives and strategies to be implemented by a council for the coming year, as well as the following four years.
- A Council Plan must be reviewed and prepared by 30 June each year in conjunction with the budget process
- Each council issues a public notice seeking community input to its draft plan for at least 28 days, before the plan is finalised and adopted by council for submission to the Minister.
Strategic Resource Plan
A Strategic Resources Plan is included as part of a Council Plan. It sets out the financial and human resources required to achieve the strategic objectives contained in a Council Plan over at least the next four financial years. The Strategic Resource Plan is updated annually.
Victoria has a common legislated framework for setting a budget that each council must follow.
The budget process involves a council setting its priorities, identifying measures and allocating funds that will show how the key strategic objectives outlined in its Council Plan are to be achieved in the coming year.
Through the budget process, a council also specifies the annual maintenance, upgrade and renewal needs of its assets and any new or replacement infrastructure, as well as the community services and facilities it will provide in the next financial year, and how much these will cost.
A council budget also estimates the revenue to be collected from other sources such as fees and charges, State and Federal Government funding, and from loans. By using these estimates, a council can determine the amount it needs to collect in rates to meet its financial commitments for the coming year, which must not exceed the State Government’s rate cap.
- Each council adopts a draft budget, which is advertised and open to public comment for a minimum of 28 days
- All councils must adopt their budget by 30 June each year (or another date fixed by the Minister and published in the Government Gazette)
- Each council must submit a copy of their budget to the Minister within 28 days after adopting their budget.
Each council is required to prepare an Annual Report of its operations according to a legislated process that reviews the council’s performance against its Council Plan.
The Annual Report must be submitted to the Minister within three months of the end of each financial year. Reports are independently audited by the Victorian auditor general.
A council Annual Report must include:
- A report on the operations of the council
- Audited Performance Statement that lists key strategic activities (from the Budget), targets and measures, and describes outcomes
- Audited Financial Statement that details the council’s financial statements, capital works program, rates and charges statement
- Audited Standard Statements for the financial year, together with explanation of variances.
Some important financial indicators used to measure financial performance include whether:
- A surplus or deficit is delivered
- There is enough cash to pay for immediate liabilities
- Debt redemption expenses and debt are excessive relative to own-source revenue
- A budgeted capital works program is delivered
- Assets are adequately valued, which will directly affect depreciation.