Bendigo council set for caretaker mode

DAY-TO-DAY operations of the City of Greater Bendigo will not be affected when the council enters caretaker mode leading up to the elections. 

Greater Bendigo council chief executive officer Craig Niemann said it would largely be business as usual when caretaker mode starts next Tuesday, September 25, at noon.

“The council will really just be restricted from making major decisions, like the awarding of a major contract, the adoption of major planning scheme amendments, or major strategies, policies or local laws,” Mr Niemann said. 

“We’ll have two meetings while in caretaker mode that will mainly cover operations matters. 

“Our business continues to be the same.”

Mr Niemann said there were strict guidelines around council operations during the electoral period.  “Our policy talks about a major contract as being in excess of 1 per cent of rate charges, so we’re talking a project in excess of $700,000,” he said. 

“The councillors have already awarded contracts for the library redevelopment and the art gallery redevelopment and there are no other major projects or strategies due for consideration. 

“If there was, we’d just delay it until the new councillors were elected and sworn in.”

Councillors would also be restricted from using council resources during their campaigns. 

“There are strict guidelines around access to information and resources that must be followed,” Mr Niemann said. 

“For example, the mayor can still use his car for council business, but he can’t use it for door-knocking.”

A spokesperson for the Victorian Electoral Commission said any policy decisions in contravention of the caretaker laws would be invalid.

The caretaker period runs for the duration of the electoral campaign, ending on October 27. 

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