LIVE: Bendigo council meeting

Reporter William Vallely will be tweeting and posting a live video on Facebook of the council meeting from 6pm. Follow him on @williamvallely or watch the live stream here

8.00pm With the public gallery noticeably thinning, councillors voted to allow council chief executive Craig Niemann to tender for $17m in loan borrowings, designed to support infrastructure projects from the 2016/17 budget. The tenders will bring council’s total debt to $50m.

Councillor Fyffe said the $17m was a “win, win” given current low interest rates and local governments’ good credit ratings.

7.30pm An eye-watering tender of $4.2 million has been awarded for the refurbishment and partial reconstruction of the Bendigo Soldiers Memorial Institute. Work will begin next month and be completed by September 2018.  

Funding breakdown below.

$800,000 City of Greater Bendigo

$500,000 Bendigo RSL

$1,500,000 State Government, Living Heritage Fund 

$1,700,000 Federal Government Community Development Grants Programme 

7.10pm A bit of everything tonight, councillors vote to reject an application by a Heathcote resident to run a handful of cows and chooks on rural land near the town.

An independent report said only two cows could be sustained on the land, not 10 as applied for. 

Poor cows.

7.00pm Motion to release the draft council budget 2017/18 unanimously passed by councillors.

Majority of councillor comments promoting sensible budget given financial constraints of rate capping. Some taking opportunity to have a dig at state government over funding, in particular Cr Fyffe.

Commenting on the budget, and future budgets, mayor Margaret O’Rourke said council was “very aware of the financial constraints going into the future”. 

6.50pm On rate capping – Cr Rod Fyffe said: “It’s going to get harder.” 

“We have a government that says we should have rate capping, it does take away our ability to implement certain projects

“Important budget, it picks up from last council, we need to make sure the strategies they (previous council) passed are implemented.”

On the draft 2017/18 budget – fair, and responsible, Cr Fyffe said.

Councillor Andrea Metcalf said she wasn’t the only councillor who campaigned against applying for a higher rate cap. 

6.45pm Musical chairs in the council chambers at the minute, with a number of councillors leaving the room because of conflicts of interest.

Councillors vote to release the draft community plan 2017-2021.

“Creating the world’s most livable community – many people would question whether this is achievable, but what else is there,” Cr Williams said. 

“We need to remember that not every idea will be picked up and people need not be disappointed in that,” Cr Fyffe said. 

“I’m extremely pleased and proud to introduce the community plan. We cannot make people participate, but we can inform them of what we are doing,” Cr Margaret O’Rourke. 

6pm Welcome to our live blog of the City of Greater Bendigo council meeting.