By Dominique Tassell
Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) has responded to complaints from locals about the state of parks in the region.
Locals have complained that parks in the region were particularly overgrown over the holiday period.
SDRC stated that this is in large part due to staff being on holidays over Christmas and New Years.
SDRC Mayor Vic Pennisi stated that the Christmas period is a time of year where SDRC is particularly under the pump.
“The place goes into caretaker mode basically and so you can’t have the number of staff on the ground,” he said.
“They’ll be back and they’ll get everything into ship shape pretty soon.”
Mayor Pennisi stated that leading up to Christmas, they received feedback about how good the region looked.
“We’ll get there again.”
The CEO stated that SDRC has also been struggling to keep up with the maintenance due to all the rain the region has received.
“It’s good weather, it’s a good problem to have. But people do have expectations in terms of level of service so I just hope people can be patient while we try and get on top of that.”
Both Mayor Pennisi and SDRC CEO Dave Burges stated that maintenance will be a large consideration in the 2022/23 budget.
The CEO stated that SDRC has already invested more resources into this area, employing four more staff late last year.
Mayor Pennisi also highlighted this, and stated that “if you want to increase the level of service, it goes hand in hand with an increase in rates”.
He said more staff means more costs, and this will all be considered during the budget.
Mayor Pennisi highlighted that SDRC has a number of large projects to consider in this years’ budget, including upgrades to Connelly Dam, bitumen at Maryvale, and sewerage at Allora.
The upgrades at Connelly Dam reportedly require around 20 million in funding, while sewerage works over the next three to four years will require 30 billion in funding.
Mayor Pennisi stated that SDRC may need to borrow money to deliver these projects, but the impacts of neglected sewerage are “far greater than an overgrown park”.
He said these are big conversations, and those conversations will be had this year.