Locals could be slugged millions

RESIDENTScould be slugged witha multi-million dollar repair bill for the Bendigo Creek, under new state government plans.

Greg Bickley with Huntly resident Lindsay Sargeant earlier this year.

Darren Fuzzard

The City of Greater Bendigo is set to “vehemently oppose”state government plans to pass on responsibility of the leveeto local government.

Thisfollows growinguncertaintyaround the management of the bank.

Local residentLindsay Sargeant said while the creek was in desperate need of repair,it was not good enough toput the burdenontobeneficiaries.

“It would break us,” he said.

“You can’t say to 15,000 property owners that they have to pay the $50 millionto rectify the levee.

“It should be dealt with from all levels of government, not us.

“We’re not the ones who have overdeveloped the area and caused these problems.”

Director of presentation and assets Darren Fuzzard said the shift in responsibility was of significant concern for council.

He said thestate government wouldonly contribute financially to any upgrade or maintenance if the local community met ongoing costs through rates.

The shift ofresponsibilitycomes in responseto the Inquiry into Flood Mitigation Infrastructure in Victoria, which identified the need to overcome uncertainty overwho manages the levee.

And while Mr Fuzzard believes clarification is needed, he said this was not the right outcome for the community.

“It would cost millions and millions of dollars if we had to dispose of the materials,” he said.

“We agree that the levee is not proactively being managed but that doesn’t mean we should take on full responsibility.

“We’re starting to see the state government (pass the buck) more and more and the only way we can continue this extra work is by increasing rates.”

Council will on Wednesday consider writing to the Premier, Minister for Local Government and Minister for Climate Change to oppose the changes.

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