Waratah-Wynyard Council - FAQ Council and Committee Meetings

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FAQ Council and Committee Meetings

DISCLAIMER
Important information concerning the interpretations of legislation and other policies is contained in this page. It is recommended that the Disclaimer be read in conjunction with the information provided.

The Local Government Act 1993 establishes and names the council responsible for each municipal area. Schedule 4 of the Act provides a framework of standard procedures for conducting the meetings of a council and also of council committees appointed by the council.

The Act is currently under review with changes expected to the Meeting Procedures Regulations in Schedule 4. Until such time as the draft Local Government Amendment Bill 2004 becomes law, the information contained in this document remains correct.

In addition, a council may make a by-law to provide for any supplementary procedures or to detail the conduct of proceedings at those meetings. As an example, the by-law may provide for Public Question Time at a council meeting.

The meetings of Waratah-Wynyard Council are conducted in accordiance with the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2005.

 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

1. When are council meetings held?

2. How do I know what council will be discussing?

3. Can I get access to the agenda before the meeting?

4. Can I attend the meetings?

5. What is a closed council meeting?

6. Can I speak at a council meeting?

7. How do I get councillors to bring a topic up?

8. How do I get a petition presented?

9. How do I get input into the decision making process?


1.  When are council meetings held?

The Local Government Act 1993 provides for four types of council meeting, including when these meetings are held:

  • Ordinary meetings of council
  • Special meetings of council
  • Meetings of council committees
  • Annual general meetings.

Ordinary Meetings:
The Mayor calls ordinary meetings of the elected members to transact council business as set out in a formal agenda. Council meetings must be held at least once every month and are not to start before 5pm, unless otherwise authorised.

Notice of ordinary meetings must be given to councillors at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also published in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area at least four days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.

Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.

Ordinary meetings of the this Council are usually held at 5:30 pm on the third Monday of each month at the Council Chambers, 21 Saunders Street, Wynyard. Click here for this years meeting dates

Special Meetings:
The Mayor may convene a special meeting to discuss specific agenda items only. A special meeting may also be convened at the direction of the council or at the request of three or more councillors.

Notice of special meetings must be given to councillors at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting. A notice of the meeting is also published in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area at least two days but not more than 14 days before the meeting.

Note: Weekends and public holidays are included in the number of days in the notice provisions.

Council Committee Meetings:
A council committee meeting may be convened at any time by the chairperson of the committee. A meeting must be held if the council or council committee so directs.

Annual General Meetings
Council must hold an Annual General Meeting:

  • no later than 15 December in each year, and
  • not before 14 days after the date of first publication of the notice.

A notice must be published on at least two separate occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area that specifies the date of the Annual General Meeting. Back to FAQ List

2.  How do I know what the Council will be discussing?

The General Manager prepares an agenda listing any matter to be discussed at the council meeting. The agenda will be made publicly available. Any documents relating to a closed meeting may be excluded from the public agenda at the General Manager's discretion. See Q5. "What is a closed council meeting?" for details.

Any excluded documents are exempt from Right To Information Act 2009 provisions.

Copies of the current agenda is available on the council's website four days prior to the date of the meeting. Back to FAQ List

3.  Can I get access to the agenda before the meeting?

Hard copies of the agenda are to be made available at the council's public office:

  • at least 2 days before a special meeting or 4 days before any other meeting
  • at the meeting.

Copies of an extract of the agenda or minutes of a previous meeting, other than an extract relating to a closed meeting, are available for a prescribed fee of $2 plus $0.20 per page.

Any documents relating to a closed meeting are exempt from Right To Information Act 2009 provisions. See Q5. "What is a closed council meeting?" for details. Back to FAQ List

4.  Can I attend the meetings?

All meetings of a Council or Council committee are open to the public except in the situation where the Council or Council committee decides to close a meeting if certain restricted types of matters are to be discussed.

A decision to close a meeting to the public can only be made with the voted support of more than half of all elected councillors, whether or not they are present at the meeting. In the case of a council committee the vote to close the meeting can be made by simple majority of the councillors present.

See Q5. "What is a closed council meeting?" for details. The chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting to ensure the orderly conduct of council business. Back to FAQ List

5.  What is a closed council meeting?

A decision to close a meeting is made with the support of more than half the total number of councillors, whether or not they are present at the meeting. In the case of a council committee this decision can be made by a simple majority of the councillors present when any of the following matters is to be discussed:

  • personnel matters including complaints against staff of the Council
  • industrial matters relating to a person
  • the health or financial position of any person
  • contracts for the supply and purchase of goods and services
  • the security of property of the Council
  • proposals for the acquisition of land or disposal of land which is not public land
  • information provided to the Council on the condition it is kept confidential
  • trade secrets of private bodies
  • matters relating to actual or possible litigation involving the Council or staff of the Council.

The chairperson of a meeting may remove the public or exclude any person from a closed meeting to ensure the orderly conduct of council business.

Documents relating to agenda items dealt with in a closed meeting may be excluded from the public agenda. Minutes of closed meetings will only include the fact that the matter was discussed but no details of the nature of the discussions will be recorded in the minutes, unless the Council or the Council committee determines otherwise.

Any documents or minutes relating to a closed meeting are exempt from Right To Information Act 2009 provisions. Back to FAQ List

6.  Can I speak at a Council meeting?

The Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2005 require councils to set aside a period of up to 15 minutes during an ordinary council meeting when members of the public may ask questions of the council but they do not provide for the public to speak otherwise.

The regulations do however permit councils to determine additional meeting procedures that are not contrary to the prescribed provisions and some councils do allow members of the public to make statements or representations during the time set aside for public questions.

Waratah-Wynyard Council follows this practice.

If you wish an issue to be raised at a Council meeting, you should first contact one or more of your local Councillors and discuss your issue with them. One function of councillors is to facilitate communication between the Council and the community. Council's website and the Council's office have the Councillors' contact details.

The chairperson of a meeting, usually the Mayor, may respond to questions for which prior notice in writing has been given. If a Councillor raises a question without giving prior notice, the chairperson may choose to address the answer if it is readily available or known. If this is not the case, the chairperson may take the question on notice or request that it be put in writing and dealt with separately from the meeting. The same considerations apply in respect of questions asked by members of the public.

Back to FAQ List

7.  How do I get councillors to bring a topic up?
  • The functions of councillors are:
  • to represent and promote the interests of the community
  • to facilitate communication between the council and the community
  • to review the performance of the council.

Councillors are to act in the best interests of the community when carrying out their functions.

If you wish to contact your local councillors, visit Council's website or telephone the council's public office to obtain the councillors' contact details. Back to FAQ List

8. How do I get a petition presented?

Petitions may be presented to the Council in relation to three subject matters:

  • Issues of significant interest
  • Separate rates
  • General matters

Issues of significant interest are:

  • matters a council declares to be such an issue
  • matters the electors, by a petition made and accepted by the council, seek to be treated as such an issue.

Electors may petition the council to have a matter treated as an issue of significant interest to the community. Petitions for an issue to be treated as one of significant interest may instigate a public meeting or elector poll.

A petition must comply with the following requirements:

  • be prepared in accordance with Part 6 of the Local Government Act 1993
  • contain a clear and concise statement identifying the matter
  • be submitted to the Council's General Manager
  • be signed by whichever is the lesser - 5% of the electors in the municipal area or 1,000 of the electors in the municipal area.

A petition is not to be made in relation to rates and charges if the Council has already determined the rates and charges applicable for the financial year. Petitions checked for compliance by the General Manager are then tabled as soon as practicable at an ordinary meeting of the council and are then taken to be accepted by the council.

The council must hold a public meeting to discuss the issue once council has accepted a petition relating to an issue of significant interest to the community. Alternatively, the council may decide to hold a public meeting to discuss any issue as determined by the council. Notice of the public meeting must be publicly displayed and published on at least three occasions in a daily newspaper circulating in the municipal area.

The council must invite the public to make written submissions on the issue of significant interest to the community. These submissions are to be lodged with the council within 21 days of the first publication of the notice. Any submission received is to be summarised and copies of that summary made available to those attending the public meeting.

The council may be required, in certain circumstances if a petition has been lodged, to hold an elector poll. The matter that is the subject of an elector poll is decided by a simple majority of the votes cast. It should be noted, however, that the result of an elector poll is not binding on the council.

A council may decide to hold an elector poll on any issue and conduct the poll in any manner as determined by council.

The General Manager determines whether or not the petition complies with the formal requirements. If it does not, the General Manager must inform one of the named proposers of the petition and the council, at its next meeting, of the reasons for the petition's non-compliance.

Separate rates:
The Council may, by the vote of more than half of the total number of councillors, whether or not present at the meeting, make a separate rate in respect of land, or a class of land, within the municipal area.

The separate rate may be made:

  • in addition to any other rates
  • in respect of a financial year or part of a financial year
  • for the purpose of planning, carrying out, making available, maintaining or improving anything that in the Council's opinion is, or is intended to be, of particular benefit to the affected land or the owners or occupiers of that land.

Ratepayers affected by the intention of the Council to make a separate rate may present a Petition Form(129 kb) to the Council within 30 days of the notice published in the local newspaper.

If at least 100 affected ratepayers or at least 10% of affected ratepayers, whichever is the lesser, present a petition the council must arrange a public meeting to discuss the issues.

General matters:
Petitions for general matters may relate to any matter including requests for local infrastructure for which the Council is responsible, such as works on local roads.

A councillor may present a general matters petition to a meeting of the council. The person named as a proposer of a petition must ensure that the petition contains:

  • a clear and concise statement identifying the subject matter
  • a heading on each page indicating the subject matter
  • a brief statement on each page of the subject matter and the action requested
  • a declaration at the end of the petition that the proposer attests to the accuracy of each statement.

Your local councillor may be able to assist you in preparing and presenting a petition. Visit the council's website or telephone the council to obtain the councillors' contact details. Back to FAQ List

9.  How do I get input into the decision making process?

The councillors are your representatives at ordinary and special meetings of the council. Each councillor has one vote at a meeting. A question arising at a meeting is determined by a simple majority of votes.

A ratepayer may write to the Mayor or any councillor expressing their views and asking that a question be put to the next council meeting. They may also put their views verbally to an alderman. Councils will advertise the details of public meetings on any issue of special interest to which the general public is invited.

A council can also invite the public to attend community consultations on various submissions or surveys. In these ways every member of the community can actively participate through a consultative process in the workings of their local council. Back to FAQ List

Waratah Wynyard Council
21 Saunders Street : PO Box 168, Wynyard TAS 7325
Phone (03) 6443 8333 : Fax (03) 6443 8383 : Email: council@warwyn.tas.gov.au
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