The local government elections on 22 May will elect members to the 11 new councils being created under local government reform.
They will initially operate in shadow form alongside the current 26 councils until they take over on 1 April 2015.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has outlined the roles and responsibilities of the new councils during the next ten months.
Explaining the importance of this period, Mr Durkan said: “Operating in shadow form allows the new councils time to make essential preparations. This is a very important part of the programme to ensure that on 1 April 2015 the new councils hit the ground running.
“Preparations during this period include approving business and financial plans, setting rates for 2015/16, appointing senior staff and leading cooperation between merging councils. The councils will also design their new organisational and service delivery structures, and agree the method by which positions of responsibility will be shared.
“The current councils will continue to operate as normal, delivering their usual services and looking after all council matters.”
For more information and a video explaining local government reform, visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/newcouncils.