Proposed Budget 2022/2023 Mayor and Chief Executive Officer's introduction
We are pleased to introduce the City of Greater Bendigo’s proposed Budget 2022/2023. The Budget is presented in line with the City’s 10-year Financial Plan, which supports the community vision and Council Plan (Mir wimbul) 2021-2025 and other key strategies, including the Climate Change and Environment Strategy and Healthy Greater Bendigo 2021-2025.
The proposed Budget supports the seven outcomes outlined in the Council Plan.
Outcome 1: Lead and govern for all
Outcome 2: Healthy, liveable spaces and places
Outcome 3: Strong, inclusive and sustainable economy
Outcome 4: Aboriginal reconciliation
Outcome 5: A climate resilient and healthy landscape
Outcome 6: A vibrant, creative community
Outcome 7: A safe, welcoming, and fair community
The proposed Budget 2022/2023 builds on a multi-year approach to funding projects and seeks to deliver projects that support a sustainable, healthy and connected environment for our growing community.
For the first time, community priorities were invited early in the Budget process to help inform Councillors as we planned the proposed Budget. Recurring themes from the feedback included the need for healthy liveable spaces and places, such as additional investment in walking and cycling infrastructure and improvements to parks and open space.
To further encourage walking and cycling, $1.5M has been allocated to a new footpath program to increase accessibility and active lifestyle opportunities, in addition to $1.9M toward footpath renewals. The proposed Budget includes a car park and toilet at Longlea Lane on the O’Keefe Rail Trail and a pedestrian trail counter for the Long Gully Trail.
In line with the Council Plan and priorities in the Climate Change and Environment Strategy, the proposed Budget continues to invest in resourcing a coordinated approach to environmental policies, strategies and programs. Initiatives include energy and water tracking systems for all City-run facilities, new measures to improve energy efficiency at Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre, including air and temperature management, and more energy efficient street lighting with a $420,000 investment (a Lighting the Regions project). These projects contribute towards our goal of net zero emissions from Council operations by 2030.
Renewing the City’s existing infrastructure remains a strong focus with $36M to be invested in upgrading City assets. The 2022/2023 capital renewal expenditure will see $14M for the renewal and reconstruction of sealed and unsealed roads, including Axedale-Kimbolton Road. There will be over $2.8M in drainage projects and $660,000 for bridges. Recreation, aquatic and open space facilities receive a $6.1M investment.
The City continues to support and facilitate growth. The multi-year project to expand the Bendigo Airport terminal and wider precinct has been a Council priority for many years. Funding from all three levels of government will deliver an expanded terminal building, new administration building and the first stage of a new business park at the site. This expansion will bring new business opportunities, investment and jobs.
Growth goes hand-in-hand with enhancing community connectivity and funding is included to support the Connecting Greater Bendigo: Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy (ITLUS). Funding has also been set aside for the design of the Heathcote Integrated Precinct and the ‘Green Spine’ project as part of implementing the Strathfieldsaye Town Centre Urban Design Framework, which will eventually deliver vegetated open public space between Wellesley Street and Apsley Lane.
Investment in sporting and recreational activities continues to be a priority with $1.5M to renew Lake Weeroona play space, $1.8M for the next stage of the Ewing Park precinct with construction of a learn-to-ride park adjacent to the newly constructed skate park, and funding to further progress scoping for the redevelopment of the Peter Krenz Centre. Funding has also been allocated for improvements to facilities at Brennan Park Swimming Pool in Flora Hill and the Strathfieldsaye Sports Club clubrooms.
Critical services will also continue to be delivered to the community. This year, the $152M operating Budget will continue to fund early years services, waste collection, street cleaning, maintenance of our fantastic parks, gardens and recreation facilities, environmental health, statutory planning, road maintenance, tourism and visitor services, Bendigo Art Gallery, The Capital and Ulumbarra theatres and much more.
For the second year in a row, the City will fund tourism destination marketing initiatives to support economic recovery and attract additional major events and more visitors to the region. Funding is also allocated to progress the City’s technology systems, to improve efficiency, customer service and delivery of services.
Alongside the proposed Budget, we continue to advocate for financial commitments at the Federal and State government level for our priority projects. These projects would contribute to the vibrancy, liveability, sustainability, health and economic success of our region. They include the Bendigo Art Gallery $25M redevelopment, $30M redevelopment and rebranding of the Golden Dragon Museum to become the National Chinese Museum of Australia, and $50M in funding needed for the proposed Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct in Marong to attract new business investment and job opportunities for our growing community.
The proposed Budget is based on a 1.75 per cent rate increase, in line with the Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates System. Around 61 per cent of Budget revenue comes from rates. As in previous years, Council has not applied for a variation to the rate cap and will absorb increasing costs and lower forecast revenue within current allocations, which limits revenue available to fund new projects and initiatives. Construction and other costs have been increasing faster than the 1.75 per cent rate cap increase. Certain construction costs have increased annually by more than 6 per cent, which will present challenges over the forward budget.
Due to landfill fees levied by the Environment Protection Authority increasing by 19 per cent, the general waste will increase in the 2022/2023 financial year by $18 (for a 140L bin). This rise reflects the costs of providing the service; Council does not make a profit from waste services.
We are pleased to present the proposed Budget 2022/2023 for our community. These documents outline Council’s commitments to shape a positive, healthy and sustainable future for our growing community.
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf
Chief Executive Officer Craig Niemann