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Introduction of Local Government COVID 19 Regulations – Financial Relief

 

The State Government on 17 April 2020 has made the Local Government (General) Amendment (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (‘COVID-19 Regulation’) to amend the Local Government (General) Regulations 2006 (‘Local Government Regulations’). This amendment was sparked by the strict procedural and financial provisions within the Local Government Act 1993 (‘Local Government Act’), limiting councils in providing financial relief for ratepayers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These changes to the Local Government Regulations has allowed councils to waiver or reduce fees in response to the pandemic and delay payment of an instalment of rates over the next month (from date amended). Additionally, the COVID-19 Regulation has permitted councils additional time to prepare the following documents over the next month (similar from date amended):

  • Budget review statement for the quarter ended 31 March 2020
  • Annual reports
  • Audited financial reports
  • Operational plan

It also allows council to notify and provide inspection of various documents through their website rather than in newspapers or at council’s officers.
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Recent amendments made to the Local Government Act 1993 No 30

The Local Government Amendment Bill 2019 (NSW) (‘Bill’) which was assented to and commenced on 25 June 2019 has amended a number of sections of the Local Government Act 1993 No 30 (NSW) (‘LGA’). The Bill amends the LGA in relation to election planning, rates, tendering requirements, mutual recognition of approvals as well as other regulatory matters and other purposes.

Under the Bill, a total of 21 amendments to the LGA were introduced. 14 of such amendments have already been implemented into the updated LGA whilst the remaining seven amendments are yet to commence on a day or days to be appointed by proclamation.

Changes to election planning

The new section 296 (5A) has been inserted into the LGA to enable a council to enter into an arrangement with the Electoral Commissioner to administer the election of ordinary councillors in 2020, or all elections including that election, if the council resolves to do so on or before 1 October 2019 and enters into the arrangement on or before 1 January 2020. Under the previous LGA, an arrangement would have been required to have been entered into by June 2019.
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