The NSW Government has made a series of regulatory changes to ensure council resources continue to be focused on frontline COVID-19 response efforts and allow councils to provide financial relief to businesses and residents. Regulations have been made under section 747B of the Local Government Act 1993 to temporarily modify the application of the Act in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic. Amendments include:
Allowing councils to delay sending out the first quarterly rates notice for 2020-21 and extend the payment deadline by one month
Enabling councils to immediately waive or reduce fees for services such as food premise inspections and footpath usage for COVID-19 affected businesses, without the need to provide 28 days public notice
Providing councils with a one-month extension to adopt their 2020-21 operational plans and budgets and submit their 2019-20 audited financial statements and annual reports. Councils will also have an extra month to submit their last quarterly budget review statement for 2019-20, and
Removing the requirement for documents to be made available for inspection at council offices, if the document is published on the council’s website or available electronically.
Amendments have also been made to remove the requirement for council notices to be advertised in newspapers and instead allow the relevant notice to be published on the council’s website. This is not a temporary measure and will be ongoing. Removal of newspaper advertising requirements under the Regulation
To alleviate the red tape burden on councils and to reduce their costs, amendments have also been made to the Regulation to remove remaining requirements for notices to be published in newspapers.
Councils are now instead required to publish notices on their websites and in such other manner that they consider necessary to bring it to the notice of the local community or other interested persons.