Telco trouble as Cowra Council receives $90,000 charge for work done 17 years ago

Cowra Council will be forced to put more funds towards its CBD footpath upgrade after Telstra presented an invoice for $92,451.14.

The invoice was for adjustments to manhole lids and frames and the mobilisation of staff to complete the work.

The invoice was included in a progress report presented to council at the June 22 Ordinary Council Meeting.

The report states the invoice said, "17 years ago Council employees adjusted the pits and used wood and other material to re-level the pits, which now need to be upgraded.

"As Council staff previously adjusted these pits/manholes without consent it is therefore up to Council to pay for these upgrades."

Discussing the report Councillor Judi Smith said it was disappointing to be hit with the charges.

"It's a bit disappointing that Council is going to be forced to pay an extra $92,000 because Telstra says we did some work 17 years ago," she said.

"The question perhaps to the director is given that $92,000 seems to be a large amount of money, what two mobilisations means? I'm presuming that they are going to be very costly."

In response Director of Environmental Services, Kate Alberry, said she was still getting to the bottom of the charges.

"'I've sent a million emails and I can't quite work out what we're actually being charged for.

"I've had an additional charge and it's now up to $99,000. I am just trying to get to the bottom of what each of those charges are for.

"I assume the mobilisation is to bring people to site twice so half and half, I'm not sure at this point."

Cr Peter Wright also questioned Telstra's decision and queried what actions Council could take.

"If they're going to upgrade something that's not doing with what we've done with, I think we should talk to the telecom ombudsmen and run a few things past him," he said.

"I have noticed on Facebook Telstra's has got a few ideas how to get a better service but the only thing they don't provide is to change provider.

"We've all been going through six days of hell with mobile services because they're fixing something but I don't really know what they've got to fix."

Ms Alberry said she was struggling with Telstra's responses.

"It is a very difficult, very bitter pill to swallow. There's three contractors down the line, three sets of different contractors that outsource this work," she said.

"So everybody puts on their amounts so it's not the true charge, it's disappointing.

"I cannot tell you how hard I've tried to give Telstra back speeches in Parliament and he delivery of Telstra and NBN over the years. I've given it all back to them and they didn't like that."

The attitude of the telecommunications provider led Cr Bruce Miller to state "Ned Kelly is alive and well", and Cr Bill West to say "It would be nice if Telstra was keen to give us a decent telecommunications service."

Despite the additional charges Councillors said they were pleased with how the project was progressing and noted major works would soon be finished allowing equipment and barriers on the main street to be removed.

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