Brakes hit on annual road funds
DRAINS may remain blocked and potholes unfilled as Southern Downs Regional Council's engineering director slams on the brakes on this year's maintenance budget.
Engineering director Peter See told councillors at last week's general meeting the southern end of the region had already spent the entire year's budget and there was precious little left in the north.
Council will now have to decide whether to allocate money from other areas of the budget, which could mean putting capital works on hold.
"The total maintenance budget was $6.25 million for the year and we've $6.4 million committed in expenses," Mr See told the Daily News.
"Council staff are looking at ways of transferring money in from another part of the budget and I've put the brakes on as hard as I can."
Mr See said, while no-one would lose their council jobs, he would be letting go of the six to 10 individual contractors it had at the moment and council staff would just work on "simple jobs" rather than any major grading works.
There have been significant delays in funding arriving from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, which has meant council employees and contractors have been focusing on maintenance work rather than flood recovery, which comes out a different section of the budget.
"That's not because the government is stuffing around," Mr See said.
"It's just a process. There are 1600 roads that are damaged and you can't assess that in five minutes."
He said the general complaints council regularly received would be treated differently and repairs on drainage issues would be "basic" instead of full.
"Potentially the public will see an apparent diminishing of service in that sense," Mr See said.
"But my job is to minimise the overspend."
Mr See said the wet weather last summer and continual rain this year meant not only local authority but Department of Transport and Main Roads infrastructure was suffering from water damage.