July 21, 2021
The ongoing costs of maintaining expensive CCTV security systems installed in Murgon, Wondai and Nanango through a Federal Government grants program may ultimately wind up being shouldered by ratepayers.
The future of town CCTV systems was discussed at the South Burnett Regional Council’s Finance standing committee meeting on Wednesday.
In recent years Murgon, Wondai and Nanango have all installed CCTV systems to monitor their CBD areas, thanks to grants from the Federal Government’s Safer Communities program.
The grants paid for the purchase and installation of CCTV systems, which are all linked to local police stations, but made no allowance for ongoing maintenance costs.
The Murgon Business and Development Association oversaw the installation of the region’s first town CCTV system four years ago, but is now grappling with the steep cost of camera maintenance and upgrades as its system ages.
Similar problems are expected to occur in Nanango and Wondai in the next few years as well.
The problem is also expected to get bigger as time rolls on.
The Council intends to install its own CCTV system in Kingaroy as part of the Kingaroy Transformation Project.
This would sit alongside other existing, small-scale CCTV systems that monitor Council buildings.
And while Blackbutt has twice unsuccessfully applied to the Safer Communities program to fund its own town CCTV system, it appears likely one will be installed at some point in the future.
To make matters worse, the Nanango system is compliant with the Queensland Police network, but the Murgon and Wondai systems – which use different CCTV technologies – are not.
As a result, some of the policing advantages of a standards-compliant CCTV system are unavailable.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Councillors discussed the future of CCTV in the region and growing community expectations that Council will ultimately assume responsibility for fixing the problem.
Cr Kirstie Schumacher said she fully supported CCTV and believed taking a considered approach to examining the issue and possible solutions was the right thing to do.
However, she was critical of the cost-shifting the Federal Government’s program amounted to.
“This is well outside the traditional areas of local government,” she said.
Mayor Brett Otto suggested that since the CCTV systems were monitored by the police, the State Government should be asked to provide some funding assistance.
Cr Schumacher agreed, noting that larger councils already have CCTV systems in place and there should be support to allow smaller communities to do the same.
Cr Kathy Duff confirmed the Murgon Business and Development Association was having difficulties with their CCTV system’s maintenance.
She believed they would welcome Council taking over its operation.
Councillors eventually decided to ask staff to take a detailed look at the problem and suggest a way forward that could be incorporated into next year’s Operational Plan.