Northern Midlands
Our Council

Our Council

Northern Midlands Council strives to provide leadership in the community, assisting Northern Midlands communities to identify, articulate and achieve community and social goals. Council embraces the concept of community capacity building: that is, facilitating the ability of community members, governments and businesses, to take the steps to find solutions to issues in their own communities.

Council faces many challenges in forthcoming years that will be proactively addressed by maintaining financial discipline, building on our public and private partnerships, and collaborating to provide best value services to the community. Council’s Strategic Plan 2012-2017 sets out how Council will continue to do its share towards making the Northern Midlands a highly attractive place to live, work and invest.

Vision

  • Northern Midlands communities will be vibrant, sustainable and resilient, promoting diversity and conserving the heritage values of our towns.
  • Our competitive strengths will attract more people to the municipality, increase employment, business activity and property values.
  • Our community pride will be based on co-operation and self help, evident by our care of natural and constructed assets and our leadership in environmental management.
  • Each community’s needs will be met with fair and appropriate quality services, creating high community satisfaction with Council’s performance and high employee morale and well-being.

Mission

Northern Midlands Council is committed to providing effective, innovative and efficient service to the community it represents. It aims to encourage active local communities of distinct character and to foster a sense of pride in the Northern Midlands area.

Guiding Principles

  • Respect for people
  • Highest levels of integrity and honesty
  • Open representation for all ratepayers and residents
  • Equitable distribution of services, costs and opportunities for all members of the community
  • Provide progressive community leadership by formulating clear, positive policies and strategies
  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Encourage community confidence through communication, consultation and participation
  • Consideration of economic, environmental and social sustainability when making decisions
  • Consistency – being fair and accountable in decision-making and actions
  • Commitment to working with facts and accurate data.

Code of Conduct

The overarching element of governance at Northern Midlands Council is the Code of Conduct. It is a requirement of the Local Government Act 1993, Section 28E that Council must adopt a code relating to the conduct of Councillors, with Regulation 22A of the Local Government (General) Regulations 2005 prescribing the specific elements to be included.

The Code of Conduct for Elected Members – Policy 47 can be accessed through the Policy Manual, Northern Midlands Council has also implemented a Code of Conduct for Employees – Policy 56 both of these policies ensure that elected members and employees understand Council’s expectations regarding appropriate conduct.

Organisational Structure

At Northern Midlands Council the Executive Team is made up of the General Manager and three Business Unit Managers.  The following Organisational Structure provides additional detail regarding the structure of the Northern Midlands Council. 

Organisational Chart

Council Meetings

Council meetings follow a formal structure and are governed by the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2005, to access these regulations click here. In addition, Northern Midlands Council has implemented a Meeting Policy (Policy Number 32) to assist with the regulation of meetings, to view the Policy Manual click here.

Northern Midland Council and Committee meetings are usually held at the Council Chambers in Smith Street Longford, with Ordinary meetings of Council being held monthly, in accordance with a predetermined schedule of meeting dates (published on the website).

Meetings commence at 5.00pm and public question time is held at 6.45pm when the gallery is invited by the Mayor to make representations on planning matters or to pose questions to Council.

Previous Council meeting information including Agendas, Agenda Attachments and Minutes are available on the Northern Midlands Council website. Meetings are open to the public except where there is discussion of confidential items which will be discussed in a closed meeting – for additional information regarding closed meetings refer to the Local Government Meeting Procedure Regulations.

Payments to Councillors

Section 340(2A) of the Local Government Act 1993 entitles Councillors to an allowance as prescribed in the regulations. In addition to this allowance, there is an additional allowance for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. For further information regarding these allowances please see the Local Government Act 1993 Section 340A.

The Local Government Division – Tasmania has released a publication to assist Councillors understand the payment of allowances. To access the Local Government Division’s Information Sheet regarding Councillor Allowances click here.

For specific information relating to the payment of allowances at Northern Midlands Council refer Policy 4 – Councillor Allowances, Travelling and Other Expenses in the Policy Manual.

Political Donations

Interestingly, Tasmania is the only state that does not require political donations and gifts in local government elections to be disclosed to the public. Regardless, the Northern Midlands Council – Code of Conduct for Elected Members (Policy 47) provides rules for Councillors regarding donations and benefits, click here to view this policy in the Policy Manual.

Councillors must ensure as part of their duties, they:
  • Never accept money under any circumstances, regardless of the amount.
  • Strive to avoid situations in which the appearance may be created that any person or body, through the provision of hospitality or benefits of any kind, is securing (or attempting to secure) a favour from you or the Council. Never accept any token or non token gift or benefit if you think that the gift is designed to influence you, or a fair observer might think that you could be influenced in the way you do your job as a result of the gift.
  • Do not accept gifts and benefits, other than token gifts, without ensuring it is disclosed and recorded in the Gifts Register in keeping with Council policies and procedures; Councillors must never demand or request any gift, or benefit for themselves or anyone else, in connection with Council work or public duties. Councillors must not give any gift or benefit if the gift or benefit is designed to influence another person, or a fair observer might think that the recipient could be influenced as a result of the gift or benefit.

Council Policies

This induction has identified a number of Council policies, it is important that Councillors have an understanding of the current suite of Council policies as they set the guidelines for Employees and Councillors to follow in accordance with Acts and Regulations.

To access Northern Midlands Council’s full Policy Manual click here. The policies with direct relevance to the role of Councillor include:
  • Councillor Expenses, Traveling and Other Expenses (Policy 4)
  • Meeting Procedures (Policy 32)
  • Privacy Policy (Policy 45)
  • Code of Conduct (Policy 47)
  • Recording Of Meetings (Policy 51)
  • Audit Committee (Policy 68)
  • Fraud & Corruption Control Policy (Policy 74)

Councillor Record Keeping & Administration

The Archives Act 1983 and Local Government Act 1993 require that Local Government Authorities, which includes Councils, make and keep full and accurate records of their activities.

Councillors are subject to the Act when they create or receive records while conducting council business. Records can be correspondence, emails, faxes, documents, plans, records of meetings, telephone conversations or text messages; and can be paper-based or electronic.

The Mayor and Councillors have some basic obligations:
  • create records of your work as Mayor or Councillor
  • follow Council's information management policies and procedures
  • protect records from unauthorised access
  • handle records with care and do not destroy records
To assist you to meet these obligations and protect your safety, Council has a standard inwards mail process. All hard copy mail relating to council business addressed to you that is received at Council will be:
  • opened in a controlled environment to screen for physical threats and prevent the spread of any harmful substances it may contain; and
  • recorded in Council's official record systems. The hard copy original of the contents are forwarded to you.
For records of official council business, including faxes and emails, you have received or created elsewhere you should send these to Council for information management storage and disposal in accordance with legislation.

The point of contact for assistance with this at Northern Midlands Council is the Executive Officer.

The Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office (TAHO) released Advice 49 – Recordkeeping for Local Government Councillors.
If further information is required after reading the advice in the link below, the TAHO can be contacted for further information on the following email address; grk@education.tas.gov.au.

Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan with its vision for the area is an essential part of Council’s role in providing leadership and guidance for the benefit of its citizens.  The Plan assists in the development of programs, services and future strategies for Local Government in the region.  It guides future directions of Council and acts as a catalyst to form financial, physical and human resource plans; and shapes the priorities Council places on future activities.

Annual Plan

The Annual Plan is based on the contents of the Strategic Plan and details the annual activities of Council and includes a list of projects that have been provided for in the budget.

Budget Financial Report

The Budget Financial Report provides an overview of the approved annual budget for the current financial year.

Important Dates – Financial Management

The Budget process each year commences in March and includes:
  • Councillors and staff list projects/capital works for consideration and costing
  • A Budget item is placed on each Local District Committee’s agenda to identify community requests for consideration in budget deliberations
  • All major and new projects considered by Council during the year are listed for costings and inclusion into the Budget
  • Council sets Budget parameters
  • A draft budget is prepared with regard to
Strategic Planning
Budget parameters
Local District Committee requests
Capital Works programs
Departmental management and operational requirements
  • Council Bus Tour
  • Council set Rate Payment options
  • Council consider and revise the draft Budget
  • Budget is presented to Council for adoption
  • Rates and Charges are levied by 31 July
In recent years the following parameters have been adopted to frame the Budget:
  • Ongoing operational expenditure to be funded by annual rate income where possible
  • Government grants to be expended in the specific areas for which they are received (i.e. untied road grants spent on roads) for capital or special projects.  Financial Assistance grants expended on capital or special projects if possible
  • New services to be funded from new rates raised (such as the introduction of the rural waste collection service)
  • User pay principle to be used/introduced where possible
  • Cash reserve funds to be quarantined or committed to specific planned projects
  • General rate increases bear relationship to the LGAT calculated Local Government cost index, plus any adjustment required in accordance with Asset Management Plan funding for the Budget period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where and when are Council Meetings held? 
Council Meetings are held in accordance with a predetermined schedule of meeting dates (published on the website), in the Council Chamber which is located with in Council’s Administration Building at 13 Smith Street, Longford commencing at 5 pm.

Where do I park for Council Meetings?
There are limited parking spots available at the rear of the Council premises, if these are full then there is always on street parking available at the front of the building.

Where do I enter the main Council Building for Council Meetings?
Councillors can enter through the main entrance (if during business hours) or via the back entry from the car park at the rear of the building.

Am I allocated a key to access the Council building?
Councillors will not require a key to the building; the building will be unlocked and accessible if you are required to attend Council Meetings.

Where do I park if I need to attend a meeting at Council during business hours?
The car park at the rear of the building is more likely to be full during business hours; if a spot is available then Councillors are permitted to use this area when on official business.

What should I wear to Council Meetings?
Councillors are to maintain a professional standard of dress, smart casual attire is required.

Do I need to bring meals and/or drinks to Council Meetings?
Councillors have access to toilet and meal/drink amenities and breaks during Council Meetings, if meetings are conducted across normal meal times, then catering will be supplied. If you have any special dietary requirements please advise Council’s Executive Officer who will ensure that these requirements are met.

Where do I sit in the Council Chamber?
Every Councillor is allocated a designated seat around the table; your place will have a name plaque to indicate where you need to sit.

Am I provided with a computer to perform the role of Councillor?
Councillors are provided with an allowance for technology to purchase equipment in order to effectively perform the role of Councillor, an iPad is required to be purchased from this allowance.

If I am having ‘technology’ issues with my iPad who do I contact for help?
Council has an IT Officer who can be contacted on 6397 7303 for training and support.

Can I set up a ‘Councillor’ page on social media to communicate with the public?
If you choose to create a social media presence then you must be mindful of the restrictions on what you can and can’t say, it is important that you understand that you are not authorised to ‘comment’ on matters on behalf of Northern Midlands Council. It is recommended that you seek advice and understand your responsibilities before embarking on social media as a ‘Councillor’.

Do I need to provide my email address, private address and contact details to NMC for release to the public?
As a Councillor you will need to nominate your contact details, these will be publicly available to the community. It is up to you whether you choose to release your private home phone number or alternatively your mobile number and email address, it is important that you are accessible to the community but it is also important that you consider the impacts on your family if providing home as your preferred contact.

Do I have ‘Councillor’ business cards supplied by Northern Midlands Council?
Council will provide you with business cards; these will be arranged once you have nominated your contact details such as phone and email address. If you need to re-order business cards, these can be arranged with Council’s Executive Officer.

What happens to the mail I receive that is sent to Council?
Council has information management procedures that apply to any correspondence received. Formal business correspondence is recorded in Council’s information management system and then placed in your office collection point.

Is there administrative/secretarial support available at Council if I need to send a letter or draft an agenda item?
Council’s Executive Officer can assist with administrative support.  Any assistance will need to be prioritised in line with the other tasks that the Executive Officer is required to perform, so it is important that you pre-arrange any assistance to ensure that the Executive Officer can allocate the appropriate time to assist and meet any deadlines.

What reports are provided by Senior Management to Council Meetings?
Each Business Unit Manager at Northern Midlands Council is required to provide a monthly report for information, this report will be included in the Agenda and the Business Unit Manager will attend the meeting to discuss and respond to any questions.

Can I access documents stored in Council’s information management system?
Councillors are bound by privacy regulations and cannot freely access Council documents. There may be items that Councillors have a right to access but this access would be determined by the General Manager and are uploaded to Council’s secure site. If you would like to view/access any other Council document you will need to provide any such request in writing to the General Manager.

How long do I have to review the Agenda before each Council Meeting?
The Council Meeting Regulations require that the General Manager provide each Councillor with the agenda a minimum of 4 days before an ordinary Council Meeting and are made available on Council’s secure site for download to iPad.

What if I have an item to raise at a Council Meeting?
Councillors need to formally request that a report be prepared as an Agenda Item prior to the closing date for Agenda Items for the upcoming meeting. Councillors are provided with the list of closing dates for Agenda Items on an annual basis.
 
What if I am sick or unable to attend a Council Meeting(s)?
If you are unable to attend a Council Meeting you will need to inform the Mayor of your inability to attend and your absence will be noted as an apology.

What do I call the Chairperson at the Council Meeting?
Councillors must refer to the Chairperson by their title, such as Mayor or Deputy Mayor.

What is the protocol if I would like to speak at a Council Meeting?
Council Meetings are governed by legislation; you will be provided an opportunity to ask questions by the Chair of the meeting, who in the majority of circumstances will be the Mayor. It is up to the Chairperson to determine who speaks in what order.

Who do I contact at Council if I need information on a matter that a member of the public has asked me to look into?
Firstly, suggest that the member of the public contact the appropriate Council Officer. If this has already occurred and the member of the public is dissatisfied with the outcome, you could arrange a meeting with the General Manager raising the matter on behalf of the member of the public - providing details so that the General Manager can follow up on the matter.

What do I do if an employee approaches me about a matter at Council?
There is a policy governing Councillor and Employee communication. Councillors will need to advise the employee that they need to raise any issues with either their Manager or Human Resources. Alternatively, depending on the nature of the issue Councillors could suggest employee’s access the Employee Assistance Program for counselling, if appropriate.

What Work Health & Safety obligations do I have as a Councillor?
Councillors need to acquire and maintain knowledge of the legislative requirements, understand the nature of the operations of Council and the associated risks and hazards (at a level reasonable in relation to their position) and ensure appropriate resources and processes are in place.

When and how is my Allowance paid?
Your allowance will be automatically paid into your account once Northern Midlands Council has your bank details. Payments are made quarterly, however can be made fortnightly upon request.
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