Learn about Local Goverment

What do Councils do?

The range of services provided by Local Government is in response to the needs and priorities determined by local communities. The services can vary greatly from one Council area to another depending upon the Council's geographical location and size, development and growth patterns, and population profile.

Most people recognise that Councils provide a diverse range of services but few people understand quite how wide and diverse the range of services are. For more information about 5 key service areas, click here.

Combined, all 68 Councils in SA spend around $1 billion a year, about half of which is spent
on: roads and drainage; waste collection, disposal and recycling; recreation and cultural
activities; and library and information services.

What Councils must do


Mostly Councils decide what services they will provide locally, however there are some services which Councils are required to provide by legislation. These include:

  • planning and development services, including building assessment;
  • some environmental health services, such as monitoring cooling towers for Legionnaire's Disease;
  • fire prevention (some building inspection, and some bushfire prevention planning functions are a duty, others are discretionary);
  • dog and cat management;
  • some administrative requirements, such as preparing strategic plans for the area, maintaining an office, employing a Chief Executive Officer and supporting the elected Council.

What Councils do by choice

Other services provided and activities undertaken or funded by many Councils in SA are listed below:

  • Immunisation
  • Libraries with books and free internet
  • Control of public nuisances
  • Monitoring of insanitary conditions
  • Control of pest animals and plants
  • Food safety inspections
  • Roads (local roads - that is, not national highways or State arterial roads)
  • Footpaths
  • Stormwater drainage
  • Parks and gardens
  • Street lighting
  • On street parking
  • Traffic management and local road safety
  • Reserves and picnic areas
  • Recreation facilities and centres
  • Ovals
  • Public swimming pools
  • Rubbish collection and disposal
  • Recycling
  • Information services
  • Free internet in libraries
  • Community centres
  • Skate parks
  • Community development programs
  • Arts and cultural programs
  • Online services
  • Community services such as Home and Community Care
  • Employment /Training Programs
  • Economic Development
  • Tourism information and support
  • Community buses
  • Environmental management
  • Festivals and events
  • Youth Advisory Committees
  • Caravan Parks
  • Cemeteries
  • Wetlands
  • Local Museums and Heritage support
  • Coastcare and Dunecare projects
  • Business support
  • Local Area Water Catchment Plans
  • Landcare programs
  • Dry zones
  • Aged care
  • Cycling tracks
  • Crime prevention
  • Community leadership and advocacy
  • Septic Tank effluent disposal schemes

Whether a service is a legislative requirement of Councils, or is provided by local choice, the Local Government Act requires that a Council is "responsive to the needs, interests and aspirations of individuals and groups within its community..." and that it must "...seek to ensure that Council resources are used fairly..." (Section 8, (b) and (h)).

To find out more about the Local Government system, click here.


To find out about Council Rates, click here.

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