What do Councils do?

Services provided by Councils are in response to the needs and priorities of local communities. The services can vary greatly from one Council area to another depending on the Council's location and size, development and growth patterns, population profile and community preferences.

Most people recognise that Councils provide many services but few people can list more than a few.

Combined, all 68 Councils in SA spend around $2 billion a year, about half of which is spent on: roads and drainage; waste collection, disposal and recycling; recreation and cultural activities; and on library and information services.

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

  • planning and development services, including building safety assessment;
  • some public 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 by choice);
  • dog and cat management;
  • some administrative requirements, such as preparing strategic plans for the area, maintaining an office, keeping records, employing a Chief Executive Officer and supporting the elected Council.

Other services provided and activities undertaken or funded by many Councils in SA are listed below. Many are used by the whole community - others as people transition through childhood, teenage years, parenthood, and ageing.

  • Immunisation
  • Libraries
  • Economic Development
  • Control of public nuisances
  • Playgrounds
  • Monitoring insanitary conditions
  • Food safety inspections
  • Roads (local roads - that is, not national highways or State arterial roads)
  • Footpaths
  • Stormwater drains
  • Parks and gardens
  • Street lights
  • On-street parking
  • Traffic management and local road safety
  • Regional Airports and aerodromes
  • Reserves and picnic areas
  • Recreation centres
  • Ovals & other sporting facilities
  • Public swimming pools
  • Rubbish collection and disposal
  • Recycling
  • Information services
  • Free internet in libraries
  • Community centres
  • Skate parks
  • Community development programs
  • Arts and cultural activities
  • Community services such as Home and Community Care
  • Employment/Training Programs
  • Tourism information and support
  • Community buses
  • Environmental management
  • Festivals and events
  • Youth Advisory Committees
  • Caravan Parks
  • Cemeteries
  • Wetlands
  • Local Museums and Heritage support
  • Coastcare projects
  • Business support
  • Stormwater recycling
  • Landcare programs
  • Dry zones
  • Aged care
  • Cycling paths
  • Crime prevention
  • Community leadership and advocacy
  • Community Wastewater Management Schemes (where SA Water does not provide sewers)

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.