Objectors have questioned how Warrnambool City Council can justify a 3.5 per cent jump in council rates.
Concerns about the increased charges during a time of high inflation were raised in written and verbal submissions to the council's draft budget which were presented at Monday's meeting.
As well as the city's finances, other issues were also raised about more footpaths, accessible parking and high fees at AquaZone.
Warrnambool Ratepayers Association president Joan Kelson said if the council was projected to have a surplus of $1.69 million on June 30 this year, how could it justify a 3.5 per cent rate rise.
She said the council was not affected by all areas of inflation with the main increases over the last year including medical and hospital costs up 4.2 per cent, tertiary education up 9.7 per cent, and gas and household fuels up 14.3 per cent.
"A great portion of these increases are making life very difficult for many members of our community," she said. "Our homeless numbers are increasing and care agencies are seeing an unprecedented need for their services and are struggling to cope financially as they do not have a bottomless pit.
"Some Warrnambool residents are having to make the decision between eating and heating, others have cut their meals back to two a day."
Ms Kelson said it was time for councillors to show compassion and reject the rate rise. It was a call echoed by a handful of others who made submissions against the proposed rate rise.
Others asked when the council was going to do something about the continued losses at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum.
...Residents are having to make the decision between eating and heating...- Joan Kelson
Laxon Fowler said that as a ratepayer during this time of raised inflation and financial stress when "most are buckling in", that he expected the council practice restraint, prudence and frugality. "Not to do the opposite," he said.
Jason Moloney asked the council why its fees at AquaZone were the most expensive in the south-west, and in some cases almost 20 per cent higher.
There was also a call for the council to consider installing a footpath or rail trail-like path along McMeekin Road to meet up with the "dangerous" corner on Merrivale Drive. It wasn't the only plea for more money to be spent on footpaths and roads.
Diana Young asked how much money was allocated in the budget for accessible parking renewal.
"The council has many off-street and on-street accessible parks which do not conform to the current Australian standards. They are badly in need of upgrading," she said.
The submissions will be considered as the council works to finalise the budget before being adopted at its meeting on June 26.
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