A NEW code of practice for Gunnedah Shire Council meetings could include greater flexibility in dates, more information for councillors before they make decisions, and an end to members of the public talking on agenda items during the meeting.
The possible changes come after amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 (LGA), in August 2016, led to a model code being developed with mandatory meeting guidelines.
However, a code can also include other practices depending on the council, the community and their needs.
In a report ahead of Wednesday's council meeting, the director of corporate and community services has advised that the Gunnedah shire code include a number of those optional provisions.
They include deciding on meeting dates by a council resolution, rather than a set schedule, which would give "flexibility to adjust meeting schedules to fit around holidays, AgQuip and the like".
In regards to decision-making, it's recommended that, before councillors pass a motion that requires funds to achieve, the source of that funding be identified; and that the general manager be able to provide an accompanying report to any notice of motion that has legal, strategic, financial or policy implications.
"Councillors should have as much information as is necessary to make well-informed decisions," the report says.
When it comes to public forums, the report advises that they be held between 4pm and 4.30pm before the start of the council meeting.
"The OLG has recommended that the current practice of hearing public submissions on items upon the agenda within the formal council meeting cease."
Indeed, in its model code, the OLG says: "Public forums should not be held as part of a council or committee meeting. Council or committee meetings should be reserved for decision-making by the council or committee of council."
Councillors will discuss the draft model code of meeting practice at Wednesday's meeting.
Before adopting its new code of practice, the council must exhibit a draft for at least 28 days and give people at least 42 days to comment on it.
NSW councils have until June 14 to adopt their new code.