‘Capital expenditure’ is money councils spend on their fixed assets (such as roads, footpaths and buildings). This can be through acquiring, upgrading or renewing assets. It is different to ’operating expenses’, which are the day-to-day expenses councils make on the maintenance and continuation of existing services and assets—it includes things like staff costs and the costs of running and maintain vehicles and equipment.
These two expenditures are shown separately on this website so that the differences are clear.
In particular, it is important to note that while operating expenses are usually relatively consistent across the years, there can be significant variations in capital expenditure from year to year. For example, if a council constructs a significant asset, such as a community wastewater management scheme, or a new community centre, the capital expenditure for this year will be much higher than in other years.