How Council works

1. Overview

Bellingen Shire Council is one of 128 local councils across New South Wales. We provide a wide range of services and facilities to our local residents, businesses and visitors, including:

  • waste disposal and recycling
  • local roads, bridges and footpaths
  • water and sewerage
  • community services and facilities
  • public health, including inspections of food premises
  • planning, development and land use
  • playing fields, swimming pools, parks and playgrounds
  • library services
  • animal registration and control
  • environmental management, including pollution, pest and weed control
  • cemeteries
  • community events

2. Legislation

Like all NSW councils, we are guided by a range of laws, regulations and policies. The Local Government Act 1993 provides the legal framework for the operation of councils, including:

  • providing for councils to be democratically elected
  • setting out the responsibilities and powers of councils and councillors
  • allowing councils and counsellors to engage with the local community
  • providing for a system of local government that is accountable to the community and sustainable, flexible and effective

3. Mayor and Councillors 


Each council is a statutory corporation. The Councillors, meeting as the Council, are the governing body of the corporation. Councillors have the responsibility of directing and controlling the affairs of the Council in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993. Section 232 of the Act sets out the role as follows:

(1) The role of a councillor is, as a member of the governing body of the council:

  • to direct and control the affairs of the council in accordance with this Act.
  • to participate in the optimum allocation of the council's resources for the benefit of the area.
  • to play a key role in the creation and review of the council's policies and objectives and criteria relating to the exercise of the council's regulatory functions.
  • to review the performance of the council and its delivery of services, and the management plans and revenue policies of the council.

(2) The role of a councillor is, as an elected person:

  • to represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers
  • to provide leadership and guidance to the community
  • to facilitate communication between the community and the council.


The Mayor of Bellingen Shire Council  is one of the seven (7) Councillors and is popularly elected. In addition, councillor functions, has the specific role defined by Section 226 of the Act. This role is to:

  • exercise, in cases of necessity, the policy-making functions of the governing body of the council between meetings of the council.
  • exercise such other functions of the council as the council determines.
  • preside at meetings of the council.
  • carry out the civic and ceremonial functions of the mayoral office.

View the Councillor profiles.

4. Budget & Financial Sustainability

Council has a responsibility to manage its income, expenses and capital budget to ensure long term financial sustainability.

The NSW Audit Office and Council’s contract auditor, Thomas Noble and Russell Chartered Accountants presented on the 2020/21 Financial Statements Audit Result at the November 2021 Council Meeting.

Financial Statements were audited and lodged to the Office of Local Government by the required due date (31/10/2021).

Council received an unqualified audit opinion for its financial statements.

Council reported a net operating deficit before capital grants and contributions of -$1M. This compares to the previous year’s deficit of -$0.9M. This compares to an original budgeted deficit of -$1.7M. This is an improvement on current Long Term Financial Plan forecasts, which projects a return to operating surpluses by year ending 30 June 2024.

Council reported a total of $34.4M in cash and investments for the year, up on last years figure of $29M.

Council exceeded the industry benchmark for 5 of the 6 ratios that the NSW Audit Office assesses Council against. Read the Community Summary Report 2021(PDF, 11MB) .

5. Organisational structure

This Organisational Structure chart(PDF, 55KB) provides an overview of each Council division and management area.

6. Your participation

Opportunities for our community to provide feedback and have a say take place throughout the year. You can get involved through our online community engagement platform.

Registration is free and easy, and you only have to register once to participate in and follow the progress of any of the engagement projects that interest you.

To view current engagement activities visit the Have Your Say section of Council's website

7. Code of Conduct

Bellingen Shire Council is committed to fair dealing and high standards of ethical behaviour in the care, control and management of the Bellingen shire. The community places its trust in Bellingen's Councillors, Council staff and Council delegates to ensure that they serve it faithfully and honestly when managing resources on its behalf.

The community is entitled to expect that the business of Council will be conducted with efficiency, impartiality and integrity in accordance with the principle that the public will always have absolute priority over private interests.

Councillors, staff and delegates are required to observe the highest standards of honesty and loyalty to the Council and avoid any form of conduct that would bring Council, Councillors, staff or Council delegates into disrepute.

The Local Government Act 1993 requires every Council to adopt a Code of Conduct that incorporates the provisions of The Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW. Council's Code of Conduct(PDF, 565KB) contains all of the provisions of the Model Code.

The Office of Local Government released a Model Code of Conduct framework which includes Procedures for the Administration of the Model Code of Conduct.(PDF, 582KB)

8. Councillors, employees and delegates of Council

Councillors, members of Council staff and delegates of the Council must comply with the provisions of Council's Code of Conduct. It is the personal responsibility of Council officials to comply with the standards in the Code and regularly review their personal circumstances with this in mind. Council contractors, volunteers and community representatives on Council's sub-committees and working parties are also required to observe the relevant provisions of Council's Code of Conduct.

Failure by a Councillor to comply with an applicable requirement of Council's Code of Conduct constitutes misbehaviour. Failure by a member of staff to comply with Council's Code of Conduct may give rise to disciplinary action. 

The Code of Conduct defines the roles of Councillors and Staff to be:

  • Councillors - direct & control affairs of Council, allocation of resources, creation & review of policies, review the performance of Council and determine matters that do not conform with policies.
  • Staff - implement decisions of Council, act in accordance with employment responsibilities.

The Accountability and Role Structure diagram(PDF, 169KB) details the break up between Councillors and Staff with respect to reporting and decision making responsibilities.

9. Lobbying Councillors

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has produced a guide for councillors, constituents and other interested parties on lobbying local government councillors.

Lobbying is common in local government and the ICAC has a view that appropriate lobbying of councillors is normal and is seen as part of the democratic process.

It is in the public interest that lobbying is fair and does not undermine public confidence in impartial decision making.

10. Delegations of Authority

Delegations of Authority allow Council to operate effectively and efficiently by providing the General Manager with sufficient power and authority to generally manage, control and administer Council affairs on a day-to-day basis.

Mayor(PDF, 33KB)

Deputy Mayor(PDF, 32KB)

General Manager(PDF, 152KB)