Council to consider community’s top priorities in the proposed 2024/2025 Budget

Investing in roads, drainage, and footpaths are among the top community priorities in the City of Greater Bendigo’s proposed 2024/2025 Budget, which will be presented at the next Council meeting on Monday May 27.

Director Corporate Performance Jessica Howard said the Budget process reflected Council’s commitment to deliver on the community’s priorities and operate in a financially responsible manner.

“With less income available, the 2024/2025 proposed Budget has been shaped by the priorities that matter the most to the community from the latest engagement results and those aligned with the Council Plan (Mir wimbul),” Ms Howard said.

“The results of our Let’s Talk survey on the Budget were consistent with previous years, indicating that our community’s top investment priorities continue to be: Roads, bridges and drainage; Waste, recycling and resource recovery; Parks, gardens and open spaces and Footpaths, tracks and trails.”

“The reality of operating under rate-capping and rising costs continues to impact the funding available to the City for new infrastructure, maintenance and renewal programs, and service delivery.

“The Budget focus has been on balancing cost increases and making efficiencies while continuing to deliver the services our community needs. At the same time, we’re also responding to unforeseen challenges, including making sure we respond to damage caused across the municipality from the recent flood and storm events.”

If adopted following next Monday’s Council meeting, the 2024/2025 Budget highlights will include:

Civic and sports infrastructure

  • In Heathcote, funds have been committed to support the City’s contribution towards the $4.3M Civic Precinct upgrade – also supported by a $1M Living Libraries grant and $2M from the Commonwealth through the Growing Regions fund
  • Significant investment from other levels of government will see the redevelopment of the Bendigo Bowls Club and the Croquet Club’s facilities
  • Design and delivery of stage 1 works at North Bendigo Recreation Reserve including a new soccer pavilion and change rooms
  • Design and delivery of female-friendly facilities at Golden Square Recreation Reserve, and a new junior oval at Huntly’s Strauch Reserve
  • Eaglehawk Courthouse access and amenities design

Roads, drains and bridges

  • Sealed road pavement renewals of $6M, including Nolan Street, Bendigo; Muriel Street, Kangaroo Flat; Forest Lane, Bendigo and Howard Street, Epsom
  • A major patching program of $3M
  • Bendigo Creek infrastructure renewal includes $1.8M for wall replacement at Nolan Street and the section from Booth Street to High Street
  • Work continues on the Kennington Reservoir Dam Wall rehabilitation – $900,000
  • Flood recovery works to Spillway Road, Eppalock – $500,000 (damage from the October 2022 floods)
  • $360,000 for design of six road safety projects ahead of construction in the following financial year
  • Wattle Street Bridge barrier repairs and works

Waste, recycling and resource recovery

  • Eaglehawk Landfill rehabilitation – $153,000

Parks, gardens, and open spaces

  • Renew public furniture, BBQs, and drinking fountains – $476,000
  • Garden Gully toilet block and play space design in Ironbark – $50,000

Footpaths, tracks, and trails

  • New and renewal funding for footpaths – $2.8M (new footpaths include Edwards Road, Kennington; Galvin Street, Bendigo; Nelson Street, California Gully; and Simpsons Road, Eaglehawk stages 1 and 2)
  • Final allocation of funds for completing the Emu Creek underpass underneath Wellington Street, Strathfieldsaye – $274,000
  • New shared paths – $674,000 (including along Gungurru Road and Rennie Street in Huntly)
  • Advocacy will continue on the design and options for the Bendigo Low Line project, a 4.4km shared walking and cycling path from Maple Street, Golden Square to Weeroona Avenue, White Hills

The organisation’s overall Operating Budget will be $169M, which funds the maintenance of the region’s fantastic parks, gardens and recreation facilities, waste collection, street cleaning, environmental health, statutory planning, road maintenance, tourism and visitor services, Bendigo Art Gallery, The Capital and Ulumbarra theatres, and much more.

The proposed Budget is based on a 2.75 per cent rate cap, as set by the Victorian Government. About 60 per cent of Budget revenue comes from rates, which helps to fund the delivery of 68 valued services. A key challenge for Council is the gap between revenue raised and the cost of delivering services and funding new projects. The gap between inflation increases and rate increases over the past five years is estimated to be $49M. This requires continued efficiencies to be made within operations to ensure low-cost services can continue.

Due to ongoing cost increases related to waste services, waste charges will increase in the 2024/2025 financial year by $34 (for a 140L bin). This rise reflects the cost of providing the service. Council does not make a profit from waste services.

As with every Budget, there is a considerable focus on delivering initiatives that are in line with our Council Plan (Mir wimbul) 2021-2025 and other key strategies, including the Climate Change and Environment Strategy 2021-2026 and Healthy Greater Bendigo 2021-2025.

For the third year in a row, the City will be guided by the Local Government Act 2020 which no longer requires a draft Budget to be exhibited for 28 days.

The proposed Budget will be presented at the next Council meeting for consideration on Monday May 27.

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