A NUMBER of Bendigo residents have started a petition calling for more information about the city's GovHub.
Ongoing costs associated with the council leasing offices in the new 1000-desk building are among their greatest concerns.
Harold Hall, a councillor for the former Huntly shire, said the available information about the project lacked detail.
He believed the project should be brought to a halt until details such as costing for the amount the city expects to pay in rent, long-term, were made public.
City of Greater Bendigo corporate performance director Andrew Cooney said all information the city could release was provided in February, when the council committed to the project.
A report to councillors, included in that month's meeting agenda, stated the estimated cost of the project over 40 years was $36.9 million, in today's dollars.
The option councillors selected was about $120,000 cheaper than the estimated cost of building a new 440-desk council office on the Lyttleton Terrace site.
But city chief executive Craig Niemann said the GovHub would have additional benefits, such as bringing an additional 600 workers into the Bendigo CBD and attracting 100 new public sector jobs.
Council made an in-principle decision to sell the site of its Lyttleton Terrace offices to the state government, making way for the GovHub.
The city has committed to the $90 million project, but has yet to formally sell the land or enter into a contract to lease the building.
"The detail of these two separate decisions will be made in the confidential section of a future council meeting due to market-sensitive information," Mr Cooney said.
He said the council was awaiting a final valuation from the Valuer General to enable the sale process to proceed.
"The valuation of the land will be set by the Valuer General. It is intended that these funds will be used towards council's fit-out costs," Mr Cooney said.
February's report to councillors estimated income from the sale of the land and the state government's contribution at a total of $8.7m.
"Early financial modelling estimated the Council would need to invest $7.285m, which will cover fit out costs and temporary accommodation costs," Mr Cooney said.
"The Victorian Government is providing some funds to cover this cost but we continue to advocate for additional support."
DOCUMENT: Minutes from council's February meeting
He said council had set maximum prices it was prepared to pay to lease office space in the GovHub and would enter into a long-term lease agreement with the government to provide certainty over future costs.
"All future decision making relating to this project relates to the sale of land process and ensuring the community is engaged in the design and accessibility of the building, so the community has an asset we can all be proud of," Mr Cooney said.
Bendigo resident Margaret McDonald said she wasn't opposed to the GovHub.
"I'm just worried they're going to get us into more and more debt over the years," she said.
A number of the Bendigo residents championing the petition have called for the Bendigo GovHub business case to be made public.
"That is for the Victorian Government to release," Mr Cooney said.
Those involved in the petition have also called for more detailed information about plans to address the need for car parking in the vicinity.
Mr Cooney said at the weekend he expected plans for the city centre to come before councillors as early as August.
"We are also working on a business case for a multi-deck car park up this end of the city centre," he said.
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh was in Bendigo yesterday to launch the petition.
"The community is demanding more detail on this proposal. Ratepayers deserve to know if this is a good deal," he said.
He intended to table the petition in parliament when sittings resumed in August.
Regional development minister Jaclyn Symes said the GovHub would create new jobs and meaningful career opportunities in Bendigo.
"Bringing 100 new public sector jobs and a $131 million contribution to the Bendigo economy, the GovHub will revitalise the city centre and provide better services to residents in the heart of Bendigo," she said.
Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan also reiterated the project's benefits.
Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards was contacted for comment.
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