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Council Operations

How do councils operate? How do councils operate?

The structure of your local council

Each council is an independent group of people who work with, and for, their local community. This group is made up of elected members (one mayor and multiple councillors) and council staff.

Each council is different in size. While large metropolitan councils employ hundreds of staff to service large populations in small areas, smaller rural councils may have very few staff servicing large geographical areas with small populations. Generally, most councils will have between 5 and 11 elected members.

Some council areas are divided into several geographical parts, known as divisions. Each division has one councillor who is elected by the voters within the division. In councils that don’t have divisions, councillors are elected by all voters in the council area. All councillors are required by the legislation to take decisions and act in the overall interest of the whole council community and area.

The work of elected members

In Queensland, local government mayors and councillors are paid by councils. The Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal  (the Tribunal) sets the remuneration schedule that establishes salary ranges for mayors, deputy mayors and councillors in different categories of local governments. In many Queensland councils the role of both the mayor and councillors is a full-time job.

Elected members meet formally to make decisions by voting on motions. They have no authority as individuals, rather they have an equal voice in council meetings. Only decisions made by the majority of elected members can be acted upon - by the council as an administrative organisation.

Elected members work hard to ensure that they make the best decisions for their local communities. They discuss local issues with their community, then set policies and decide what actions will be taken to deliver on those policies.

More about the Mayor

The Mayor is elected as a representative of the council area as a whole at the general elections (for a term of four years).

The Mayor has some special duties to perform, which include

  • Running council meetings
  • Acting as council spokesperson (e.g. to the media or at community events)
  • Carrying out ceremonial duties (citizenship ceremonies, opening new buildings or parks)
  • Working with the council chief executive officer on council business

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Every council pays staff, and contractors, to work for the community. The services provided by each council may vary, but most employ administration officers, librarians, plant and equipment operators, drivers, accountants, planners, inspectors, engineers, community workers, environmental officers, horticulture workers and recreation officers.

The council CEO and staff advise the elected members, and carry out the Council's decisions.