Councillors pick up on $3m budget

PLANS to spend $3 million over three years on a communications system for our water and sewerage networks was described as a “gold-plated solution” by Cr Neil Meiklejohn this week.

“It’s like - I would like a new car,” he said.

“But I can’t afford it.

“Can we afford this?

“It isn’t critical tomorrow.”

The engineering department already tried to slip the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system into the budget, but eagle-eyed councillors picked up on it and were irked by its inclusion when they knew next to nothing about its merits.

The telemetry system is technology that allows council to monitor and control its water and sewerage networks remotely.

Engineering director Peter See said it could save council a fortune in staff time.

“Over the public holidays we were up about $6000 in overtime,” he said.

“If we get this up and running, only one or two staff members would be required to be on call instead of people across the region.”

Council will try and access funding for the project from the Australian Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund and yesterday moved a recommendation to apply for this.

If it’s refused, engineers look like they’re facing a tough battle convincing the elected officials of its worth.

Cr Vic Pennisi said similar equipment had already been installed on the Granite Belt but wasn’t working and needed replacing.

“Are we going to create a beast here that in another 20 years’ time isn’t working?” he asked.

“Are they robust enough to achieve what they say they are going to achieve?

"Especially when we are in an area where communications are basic at best.”

Mr See agreed there were ongoing problems with the Stanthorpe system but a new system would be of huge benefit to the region.



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