Bendigo budget: Residents angry about rate rise

BENDIGO property owners are angry about a proposed six-per-cent rate increase.

The City of Greater Bendigo announced the rate rise yesterday as part of its proposed annual budget. 

Rates payable on an average Bendigo home valued at $317,000 with a small garbage bin will rise $1.70 per week to or $27.72 or $1,441.35 per year.

Myers Flat retiree Graeme Betts owns a home and three investment properties with his wife Margaret. 

Mr Betts said their rates last year were almost $5000.

"Apart from the rate rise, it looks like we’re also going to get a massive insurance rise because this flood survey has been done," Mr Betts said.

"It's difficult for me and the position I'm in. I'm a self-funded retiree and I don't quality for government assistance. Our only income is from rent.

"Six per cent mightn't sound like much but on your rates you do notice it."

Mr Betts said his tenants were on disability pensions so he planned to absorb the rate rise rather than raise their rent.

Strathfieldsaye ratepayer Alan Howard said the rate rise was against the best interests of most Bendigo residents.

"These are fairly difficult and uncertain times," he said.

Mayor Barry Lyons said the council worked to ensure the city’s finances were well-managed and that ratepayers’ money was spent where it was needed.

“Without revenue from rates we would be unable to deliver many of the capital works projects and services that our community is asking us for,” Cr Lyons said.

The council's organisation support director Marg Allan said while overall rate revenue would increase by six per cent, it did not mean individual ratepayers would pay a uniform six-per-cent increase. Some will pay more and others will pay less.

“To achieve our overall revenue target, we strike a rate in the dollar (0.3927 per cent in 2014/2015). When calculating individual rate notices we then multiply this rate in the dollar by the value of the property,” Ms Allan said.

“This year is a revaluation year, so new property valuations undertaken in January will be used to calculate individual property rates for 2014-2015."

The council has inspected properties in Golden Square to correct some valuations, resulting in substantial rate increases.

A municipal charge of $32.40 will be discontinued. 

The council forecasts underlying deficits of $8.76 million for 2013-2014 and $4.55 million for 2014-2015. 

Chief executive officer Craig Niemann said the figures were not a true indication of the council's finances and were due to the timing of payments and grants.

"A surplus is expected in the next financial year," he said. 

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