There are special rules in the Local Government Act 2002 governing how the council makes its long-term and annual plans.
The council must at all times have a long-term plan in place , and must adopt one every three years . A long-term plan describes the council’s activities and its budget over a 10 year period . The council adopts an annual plan in the years between the long-term plan’s three-year cycle. The annual plan contains the council’s annual budget and financial impact statement and identifies any variations from the long-term plan .
It is the mayor’s role to lead the development of the long-term plan and annual plan , and it is for the governing body to make the decision to adopt them . Local boards are responsible for identifying and communicating the interests and preferences of people in their areas. Local boards also have responsibility for reaching agreement with the governing body in relation to the local board agreements, which form part of the council’s annual and long-term plans.
Consultation before adopting a long-term plan
Before the governing body can adopt a new long-term plan, it must consult using a modified special consultative procedure under the Local Government Act 2002 . The governing body must adopt a long-term plan prior to the previous plan expiring (which it does after it has been in force for three years). This means it must be adopted on or before 30 June of the relevant year .
Long-term plans can (and sometimes must) be amended using the special consultative procedure under the Local Government Act 2002 .
Consultation before adopting an annual plan
The council needs to undertake consultation before adopting an annual plan if that plan contains significant or material differences from the long-term plan. The council does not need to use the special consultative procedure for this consultation; but when consulting, the council will use a consultation document .
Decision-making on rates
The setting of rates is a special type of decision made by the governing body under the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.
There are several categories - general rates, targeted rates and the uniform annual general charge. All categories are set by the governing body  immediately following the adoption of the Annual Plan or the Long-term Plan .
In practice this means a separate rates report is put to the governing body directly after the relevant plan is adopted.