We are pleased to introduce the City of Greater Bendigo’s 2023/2024 Budget. The Budget supports the City’s Community Vision and 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.
Thank you to all those in the community who contributed to early public engagement to inform the Budget. We received a record number of community priorities for consideration that helped to guide Councillors. Although there were many great ideas contributed, creating healthy, liveable places and spaces in Greater Bendigo was a key theme from the feedback given.
This is a community-focused Budget with priorities that will enhance day-to-day living and contains investment to high-value projects with long term benefits.
This year’s budget is the most challenging the City has experienced in some time. For most local governments, the reality of operating under rate-capping, with the cost of materials and services increasing alongside community expectations, means that budgets are constrained. The City is making increasingly hard decisions during the year and through the budgeting process.
To support opportunities for the community to stay healthy and well, $1.24M will be invested in designing and delivering new shared paths and trails, including stage one of the Ironbark Gully Trail between Nolan Street and Holmes Road, design for the new Bendigo Low Line separated walking cycling network between Golden Square and Lake Weeroona, and delivery of an underpass at Emu Creek in Strathfieldsaye over the next two years.
Open planned space continues to be a priority with works commencing on the multi-year Strathfieldsaye Town Square project and a shared path between Wellesley Street and Apsley Lane, and redevelopment of the Municipal Baths in line with the Rosalind Park Recreation Reserve Precinct Master Plan.
Priorities that support the delivery of actions in the Council Plan and Climate Change and Environment Strategy include sustainable land management education and grants program, a contribution to a local carbon offset pilot program, electrification projects, and biodiversity engagement including support for local Landcare and other environmental groups in the community. These projects contribute to our goals to protect and regenerate the region’s ecosystems and achieve net zero emissions from Council operations by 2030.
Building our region’s flood resilience is a priority to keep our community safe. Detailed design for a Bendigo Creek levee from Racecourse Creek at Midland Highway to Leans Road, Huntly will receive $360,000 in funding and will include a shared path. Rehabilitating Bendigo Creek near Weeroona Avenue, White Hills will also see accumulated silt removed, banks stabilised and an instream sediment basin installed.
To meet the diverse needs of a growing community, the City is seeking external funding support for a new kindergarten building in Marong which will be the first stage of a multi-year investment for a community hub. A secure annual grants program for the next three years will support important work at Neighbourhood Houses in Eaglehawk, Heathcote, Kangaroo Flat, Long Gully, Marong and Bendigo. There are also funds for all-abilities access projects to address non-compliant disabled car parking, pedestrian crossings, and minor footpaths and kerbs. A Changing Places facility at Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve will also go ahead.
The City continues to support and facilitate economic growth for new jobs and strongly advocates to State and Federal governments for the City’s priority projects that also contribute to the vibrancy and liveability of our region. The next financial year will see the completion of the Bendigo Airport terminal expansion and the Bendigo Tramways’ extended workshop. Supporting the Victorian Planning Authority to prepare a master plan for the Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct in Marong is another priority.
Our fantastic recreational facilities play an important role in bringing the community together. The City will deliver the final $3.5M in staged funding for the shared Mercy Junortoun Joint Use Sports Precinct, which is close to completion. Strathfieldsaye Club Court will receive a $1.6M investment as part of the City’s multi-year investment to improve facilities for a growing community.
Budget funding will continue to be available to attract event opportunities at our state-of-the-art sporting facilities, including events and tournaments in the build up to the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games. These events draw people to stay longer, dine and shop, which boosts our local economy and supports businesses.
The Budget includes an allocation of $68M of capital works, of which $36M is classed as renewal. The capital program in total includes $13M for sealed roads, $3.9M for unsealed roads, $5.6M for drainage works, and $3.4M for works for footpaths and shared paths.
In 2023/2024, the $168M 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.
The Budget has been developed in line with the Victorian Government’s rate cap of 3.5 per cent. As with previous years, Council has not applied for a variation to the rate cap as it seeks to absorb increasing costs for supplies, goods and services. This requires efficiencies to be made within operations to ensure services can continue.
Residents will see a small rise in the general waste charge to cover increased costs of this service. The rise reflects the costs of providing the service; the City does not make a profit from waste services.
Council’s key funding streams are generated via rates and charges, grants and user fees. This year $48.5M will come from grants from State and Federal governments, which are an important source of income for the City to continue to deliver services.
The City is proud to present this Budget for the community.
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf
Chief Executive Officer Craig Niemann
To view the adopted Budget 2023/2024 head to: https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/About/Budget