Notice 4 - Annual Business Plans and Strategic Planning

30 April 2020

As mooted in our previous Alerts (and subsequent to our advice provided by Natasha in our LG Alert as recently as yesterday), consequent upon the South Australia Public Health Act 2011 and the Emergency Management Act 2004 emergency declarations, the Minister has, today, published a further Notice pursuant to section 302B of the Local Government Act 1999 (‘the Act’).

The Annual Business Plans and Strategic Planning Notice (No 4) 2020 (‘Notice 4) provides assistance for councils with regards to the opportunity to delay the statutory timeframes surrounding the rates declaration, the annual business plan and the draft budget processes.  (As an aside, Notice 3 was also published this date, but its operation is restricted to the application of the electronic participation in council meeting provisions for the District Council of Coober Pedy).

The variations made to the Act by Notice 4 are reflected as follows:

122 – Strategic Management Plans

 (4) A council may review its strategic management plans under this section at any time but must –

 (a) undertake a review of –

 (i) its long-term financial plan; and

(ii) any other elements of its strategic management plans prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph,

 as soon as practicable after adopting the council’s annual business plan for a particular financial year; and

 (b) in any event, undertake a comprehensive review of its strategic management plans within 2 years and 3 months after each general election of the council.

123 – Annual business plans and budgets

 (8) An annual business plan and a budget must be adopted by a council after 31 May for the ensuing financial year and, except in a case involving extraordinary administrative difficulty, before 31 August 30 November for the financial year.

153 – Declaration of general rate (including differential general rates)

(5) A council must not –

(a) declare a general rate until after it has adopted its annual business plan and its budget for the financial year to which the rate relates; and

 (b) except in a case involving extraordinary administrative difficulty, declare a general rate for a particular financial year after 31 August 30 November in that financial year.

Accordingly, the amendments provide councils with an additional 3 months within which to review its strategic management plan, as well as an additional 3 months for the rates declaration, annual business plan and draft budget processes.

These amendments were critical to provide councils additional time to not only consider the effects of the public health emergency on the existing budgetary position, but also to evaluate and take into account the broader effect on residents and ratepayers, including their ability to meet rating obligations.

Of course, for those councils who do not require this additional time, and had been working towards the statutory timeframes prior to the amendments made by Notice 4, it is ‘business as usual’. It remains open for any council to adopt its annual business plan and budget (and declare general rates) at any stage prior to 30 November 2020.

If you have any questions in relation to this Alert, please contact: