Southern Downs Regional Councillors are still mulling over brands of excavators.
Southern Downs Regional Councillors are still mulling over brands of excavators.

Machinery causes council gridlock

MAYOR Ron Bellingham said he was sick of the “nitpicking” after council's plant committee remained “gridlocked” over plans to buy a new excavator.

At last month's round of council meetings, councillors Ross Bartley and Vic Pennisi refused to accept director of engineering Peter See's recommendation of a new Hitachi ZX250H-3 excavator to replace its seven-year-old Komatsu at a cost of $201,227.

The two councillors originally expressed concerns over the recommended brand and asked Mr See questions about the machine as well as the reputation of the company and its customer service record.

Despite his assurances, councillors were still not satisfied and it was referred to the plant committee, which met just before last week's general meeting.

It failed to arrive at a solution.

After two motions were tabled and lost, the winning motion was to not purchase anything – much to the mayor's annoyance.

“I'm sick of it,” Cr Bellingham told the meeting.

“I'm fed up with this nitpicking approach.”

However, Cr Bartley remained adamant.

“If I'm forced into buying an excavator I won't be buying a Hitachi,” he said.

Councillor Neil Meiklejohn decided to test the waters and moved in-line with Mr See's recommendation.

It was seconded by Cr Peter Blundell, but the vote was lost.

Cr Bartley then tried his luck by moving that council buy another Komatsu, but it was also defeated.

Apart from debating the specific brand of excavator, councillors were also unsure of whether they needed the equipment at all.

“Before we make this decision, I'm more interested in knowing whether we actually need it,” Cr Pennisi said.

“It's a quarter of a million bucks we don't have to part with. We need to start being prudent.”.

Before an excavator is purchased, a review of plant and equipment will be done so council can decide what it needs.

Mr See was concerned about the decision as council has already been through the tender process, and if it decides to purchase the excavator after the review, advertising costs will need to be paid again.


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