ALMOST half of City of Greater Bendigo councillors nominated to be mayor but they returned Margaret O’Rourke for a third term as the council seeks to make headway on projects that threaten to leave council with a legacy of cost.
Long-serving councillor Rod Fyffe will serve as deputy mayor next year making the leadership team a familiar pair to whoever wins the state election in just over a week.
Councillors are halfway through their four-year term but the Bendigo Airport redevelopment completed in 2017 has failed to attract a commercial airline carrier as council has attempted, and so far failed, to attract federal funding to improve the terminal.
Cr O’Rourke, yet to be sworn in, also identified waste as an issue that required resolution as well as outside funding.
“I think we would like to see some announcements around the airport whether it is for regional passenger transport or the (Qantas) pilot academy,” she said.
Bendigo is one of seven regional cities that could be chosen as the location for a commercial flight school operated by Qantas.
“We would also like to get our heads around waste a bit more in terms of what we need to do there, not only in greater Bendigo but also the surrounding shires,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“We are certainly seeking assistance from state and federal governments around that because it is an Australia-wide issue that really needs to be worked through.”
Cr Fyffe, who has been mayor four times previously in a 34-year council career, added projects he would like to see funded in the next term of state government.
“I think whichever party wins, we will be working with them to make sure we get our fair share of state funding,” he said.
“We have quite a number of projects we would like to be developed, law courts, a govhub, a bypass at Marong for example.
“All of these things require us to prepare a case and meet with state and federal governments.
“We talk to both sides of parliament and independents to make sure our message is being heard.”
The recent openings of a swathe of multi-million-dollar projects in Bendigo is deceptive given most received council funding before the state government introduced rate capping limiting rate rises to about two per cent per annum.
The Municipal Association of Victoria has called in the lead up to the election for parties to commit to developing a rate cap indexation model to reflect what it costs council to deliver community services.
The Liberal National Party has promised to launch an independent inquiry into farm rates in Victoria if the Coalition wins government, and Labor has said it would support inquiry into the council rating system to identify fairness in terms of equity.
Other councils will elect mayors for consecutive terms but in Bendigo since council amalgamation, the role has generally been shared.
Cr O’Rourke’s election this week therefore stands as a record.