HELPING LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
GOVERN BETTER
Skip to main content
Skip to Search and Main Navigation

Glossary

Administration

The paid staff of the local government including the Chief Executive Officer.

Annual budget

A council must prepare a budget for each financial year and adopt its budget by 31 August each year unless granted an extension by the Minister for Local Government.

The budget must include information such as the standard statements for the budget year, a description of the activities and initiatives to be funded in the budget, a statement of how those activities and initiatives will contribute to the strategic objectives in the council plan, a statement of council rate levels, borrowings, debts and so on.

Annual plan

The activities and programs that a local government will deliver in any particular year as part of the four-year council plan.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The most senior position in the administration. The CEO is directly accountable to the council.

Common law

Derived from English laws which are based on custom or court decisions as opposed to legislated law or statutes.

Community

The entire population of a municipality which is made up of many different local and shared interest groups and individuals.

Conflict of interest

This refers to situations where a councillor or council officer has personal interests in the decisions that they are part of. For more information see Conflict of Interest.

Constituents

People within a councillor’s electoral area (whether single, multi or whole of municipality) who are voters.

Council

The group of elected members of the local government.

Councillor

An individual who is elected to council.

Council meeting

The elected members (councillors) meeting formally as council as set out in the Local Government Act 1989.

Council officers

A paid member of staff (see administration above).

Council plan

The strategic plan of the council which must include the objectives, the strategies for achieving these objectives for at least four years, as well as the strategic indicators for monitoring the achievement of these objectives. The council plan must also include the Strategic Resource Plan (see definition below).

Elected members

See councillors above.

Governance

This is the process for making and implementing decisions. For more information see What is good governance?.

In camera

Latin term meaning in the chamber or in private. On this website it refers to holding a council meeting which is closed to the public.

Local government

This is used in two ways on this website. ‘A local government’ is a corporate entity for each municipality which is made up of elected members (councillors) and the administration (council officers). ‘Local government’, by contrast, is a collective reference to the sector comprising all the local governments.

Local Government Act

This is the state government Act under which local government operates.

Local laws

A piece of legislation enacted by a council.

Municipality

The geographic area of a local government.

Natural justice

This is a doctrine which ensures that decisions are made in a decent, fair and honest way by protecting against the arbitrary exercise of power. For more information see Natural Justice.

Responsible Authority

The body responsible for administering the planning scheme in a particular geographical area. For municipalities, the council is the Responsible Authority.

Resources

Refers to the equipment, people and money needed for local government programs and services.

Special committee

A formal committee of the council as defined in Section 86 of the Local Government Act 1989. Councils may delegate some decision-making powers to these committees which can include just councillors or any combination of councillors, council staff and other people.

Statutory planning

Statutory planning involves administering the planning scheme and assessing permit applications.

Strategic Resource Plan

The Strategic Resource Plan is a four-year plan (at the very least) which identifies the resources required to achieve the strategic objectives in the council plan.

Wards

The geographical areas within a municipality which councillors are elected to represent. Wards can be single councillor, multi-councillor or can comprise the whole municipality.

INFO
Good Governance Guide

Produced by the Municipal Association of Victoria, Victorian Local Governance Association, Local Government Victoria and Local Government Professionals to promote good governance in local government.