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Nova Scotia Municipal Government

There is generally a separation of powers between the elected officials and the appointed officials. The elected officials include your Mayor or Warden and Councillors, and as a Council they have the Legislative Powers of the Municipality. The appointed officials include the Chief Administrative Officer or Clerk/Treasurer and all municipal staff and they are responsible for the administration of the municipality.

Responsibilities of the Municipal Council


The Council in many ways is like the Board of Directors of a Company, where they set direction of the municipality each year with the approval of the budget and the long term direction of the municipality, but they don’t become involved in the day to day operation of the municipality. That function is left to the professional staff.

The main functions of a Council can be described as follows:

  • Legislative functions such as developing and passing the municipal laws, short term and long term planning, and policy
  • Approve the budget and set the property tax rates
  • Approve major purchases
  • Represent the views of citizens
  • Resolving conflicting interests in the community
  • Hire the Chief Administrative Officer

Responsibilities of the Municipal Staff

The majority of municipalities have the Chief Administrative Officer form of government (95% of the population in Nova Scotia has CAO system). The CAO is the link between Council and municipal staff, and the CAO oversees the day to day operation of the municipality, preparation of reports, policy, budgets and recommendations for Council.

The general categories of municipal staff responsibilities fall into the following:

Administrative Services

  • Preparation of agendas, minutes, documents for council decision making
  • Public communication, correspondence, customer service for inquiries, information
  • Community Viability and Sustainability
  • Financial Services
  • Information Technology
  • Records Management
  • Insurance Portfolio
  • Human Resource Management

Protective Services

  • Police Protection
  • Fire Suppression
  • Animal Control
  • Building Inspection
  • Fire Inspection
  • Emergency Measures Organization
  • By-law Enforcement

Transportation Services

  • Streets & Sidewalks
  • Traffic Services
  • Snow & Ice Control
  • Street Lighting
  • Public Transit
  • Public Parking
  • Tree Management

Environmental Health Services

  • Solid Waste Management
  • Storm Water Management
  • Drinking Water
  • Wastewater Management
  • Community well being

Recreation Services

  • Parks & Playgrounds
  • Trail Systems
  • Recreation Facilities & Programs
  • Special Events