A statement by Mayor Cr Barry Lyons:
The proposed Budget for 2014/2015 continues to deliver programs and projects that will help to fulfil council’s vision of: Greater Bendigo working together to be the most liveable regional city in Australia.
Revenue from rates, fees and user charges, together with Government grants and other contributions will enable us to deliver an ambitious $62.2M building program, with capital works worth $42.69M and major works worth $19.53M.
This building program includes completing the Ulumbarra Theatre, the redevelopment of Canterbury Park and further progress planning for the Greater Bendigo Indoor Aquatic Leisure and Wellbeing Centre, the Bendigo Airport redevelopment and Bendigo Botanic Gardens.
There is continued investment in ‘grassroots’ infrastructure, including $21.6M for roads, bridges, drainage ($5.58M) and footpaths and funds for existing assets to make sure they are well maintained and can meet the needs of our growing city. This includes $6.9M for building improvements; $2.6M for recreation properties and structures; and $925,000 towards conserving the City’s heritage properties.
Council is also proposing to provide $715,000 towards a partnership project with the Federal Government and 15 other local councils to upgrade 23,000 streetlights in north, west and central Victoria with energy efficient technology. This initiative is expected to save the City in the order of $19.4M over the next 20 years.
The $151.5M operating Budget again demonstrates that service delivery is our core business and that the City provides services across a wide spectrum. In Community Services, we have allocated $15.5M, including $9.3M for Aged and Disability Services, $2.4M for Maternal and Children’s Health, $4.3M for Child Care and $5.4M to encourage an Active and Healthy Community. There is also $23.6M for the maintenance and further development of infrastructure assets such as roads, footpaths and drains and our magnificent parks, gardens and natural reserves.
Waste management remains one of the City’s most expensive services with around 90,000 bins to be emptied from kerbsides three-and-a-half million times in 2014/2015. Ongoing increases in the EPA levy add $3.5M to these costs and result in higher landfill charges for residents. The Budget includes funding to start rolling out of 360 litre recycling bins, giving Greater Bendigo the option of being able to recycle more of their domestic waste and help meet targets in Council’s recently adopted Waste and Resource Management Strategy. For the first time, public place recycling bins will be located in high profile areas.
To help fund Capital Works and services rates will increase by 6.0 per cent, which is in line with Council’s 10-year financial plan. The Municipal Charge will be discontinued.
The proposed Budget is prudent and was developed using a more efficient and transparent process informed by the Independent Review of the City of Greater Bendigo. It gives me great pleasure to present the proposed Budget to the community of Greater Bendigo and to seek their feedback. I am confident that it will help achieve Council’s vision of being Australia’s most liveable regional city.