Warrnambool's asset renewal gap is expected to balloon from $19 million to more than $40 million over the next decade, a city council strategy shows.
The council is in the process of updating its Asset Management Strategy which found that many of the city's major assets were reaching the end of their useful life, and without help the council's asset renewal shortfall would grow to more than $40 million.
The strategy's action plan calls for the council to set aside $435,000 over five years for management of the council's $830 million worth of assets.
The revised strategy, which is reviewed every five years and is yet to be formally adopted, covers the city's assets from buildings, roads, footpaths and drainage through to playgrounds and park furniture.
According to the strategy, the council sets aside about $19 million each year to renew, improve and grow its assets, while $12 million is set aside to operate and maintain them - about 34 per cent of the council's annual expenditure.
"Our assets are ageing and are at various stages of their life cycle," the report says.
"One of the biggest financial challenges facing us is the cost of renewing our ageing infrastructure."
The strategy aims to reduce the backlog of renewal projects, while finding a way to sustainably fund the renewal of its assets into the future.
"The growing asset renewal gap facing us was the major driver behind us applying to the Essential Services Commission for a variation to the current council rate cap," the report says.
The council was granted special permission to charge extra rates for two years, but the council had decided to waive its right to add the extra charges onto this year's rates due to the financial impact of the coronavirus on the community.
The council, however, plans to defer the extra rate rise above the state government-imposed cap in a few years if the ESC allows them to.
"The higher rate cap variation will slow the growth of the renewal gap and see it halt in around 10 years' time, increasing funding further will see this happen sooner and begin to close the renewal gap so that our assets remain safe and are able to support the delivery of quality services," the report says.
At a recent council meeting Cr Mike Neoh said the strategy sets out how the council managed its assets and provided a framework for "making really hard decisions".
"The community always wants 'new, new, new'. We're reluctant to dispose of our assets," he said.
"Sometimes the service levels actually have to decline if we have less use of a particular asset."
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