THE CITY of Greater Bendigo is bracing for skyrocketing construction and inflation costs likely to constrain its ability to pay for new projects.
Some construction costs have increased at more than four times the speed of rate rises, according to the latest draft council budget, which is expected to be publicly released tonight.
The council gets around 61 per cent of its money from rates.
The council can only raise rates by 1.75 per cent next financial year under state government laws.
That will hold back huge rate rises for the average person in 2022/23, despite an expected spike in property prices in many neighbourhoods.
People could see their rates rise, though, under the system.
The 1.75 per cent cap applies to the total amount of rates money councils raise, not every property.
The rate cap and surging inflation is likely to leave the council with "challenges", mayor Andrea Metcalf and chief executive Craig Niemann said in their forward to the budget.
"[The city] will absorb increasing costs and lower forecast revenue within current allocations, which limits revenue available to fund new projects and initiatives," they said.
The council has designed the draft budget with the hope of maintaining services like roads, rubbish, theatres and other community assets.
Cr Metcalf said rate rises would help it do that as the economic rebuild post COVID-19 continued.
"With recovery continuing to improve for our region, it is critical for us to continue to provide services to our community, which we cannot do without revenue from rates," she said in a media release.
Cr Metalf urged anyone concerned about paying their rates and charges to contact the council, which has a financial hardship policy.
Rate rises are not the only costs residents may need to factor into their spending as the financial year unfolds, the council has warned.
Waste service fees will also rise, including the cost of kerbside waste and recycling.
Those charges could rise by 10 per cent, or 18 per cent for many residents, according to council documents.
Organics bin charges will rise by two per cent.
The council says rising waste costs would largely be due to increased landfill levies imposed by the Environmental Protection Authority.
The council does want to finance a slew of new projects and initiatives out of the upcoming budget, despite rising cost pressures.
They include cash injections of more than $1 million for projects like the Strathfieldsaye Community Hub in Club Court, the Mercy Junortoun Joint Use Sports Precinct and new facilities at Ewing Park.
The council would also spend $14 million on roads, bridges and drainage including $1.5 million for Axedale-Kimbolton Road.
It would spend $1.5 million on new footpaths and $1.9 million renewing the ones that already exist.
Those spends have come after "strong" community feedback about the importance of walking and cycling networks, Cr Metcalf said.
Other community members asked for more open space to help stay active.
The council has proposed spending $1.5 million on a previously planned Lake Weeroona playground, $250,000 on an O'Keefe rail trail car park and toilet block at Longlea and a number of other upgrades around the municipality.
The current draft budget for 2022/23 has been estimated at $152 million.
People will be able to supply feedback about the draft until May 16 by heading to www.letstalkgreaterbendigo.com.au
That feedback will inform a final budget that the council expects to finalise by the middle of the year.
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