THERE'S much weeping and gnashing of teeth in social media and in the long suffering populace after the arrival of the first of Lithgow Council water bills generated by the new fangled so called Smart Meters.
According to our correspondents the 'Smart" bit translates as 'smart enough to deliver dividends for Council'.
And while that may be seen as unfair criticism by some the fact remains that the bills that have gone out are whopping family budget wreckers that can't be simply explained by delays in sending out accounts.
There will be real hardship for many and a flood of applications for please explains and delayed payments can be expected.
Some are asking just how much of the slug is from actual readings, how much from computer error and how much from estimates when the changeover occurred.
And it's all the more galling as Council had raised hopes when it said it would 'consider' concessions because of the extra household water used during the bushfire crisis (not to mention the massive breaks blamed for wrecking some hot water systems when the sludge poured through the mains).
One Lithgow resident told the column that he had received a bill for more than $655 for the period November 2019 to June 2020 despite having already paid his average bill of $128.21 for November to April back on April 17. Bit of double dipping or voodoo accounting? Take your pick.
Then a telling opinion from a tradie who had worked on the meter conversion program and well informed on the reading process.
On his reading he should have been charged for just 20 units. He received a bill for 200!
Council has not done a very good job in selling the merits of its costly Smart Meter conversion and on that claim not a very good job at programming the computers either.
The sell will be even more difficult now - even with the usual excuse of government demands for "full cost recovery' in water supply.
There could well be a simple reason for all this budget nightmare stuff. Meantime maybe bottled water is more cost effective after all.
Life's little mysteries
IT'S not just UFOs that present unexplained sightings.
A couple of things puzzling observers in Lithgow at present include an industrial type spool of what appears to be telephone cable near the old caravan park amenities block in Glanmire Park and just what might be in a red suitcase thrown over the fence onto the top of the northern embankment overlooking Lithgow railway station.
We love these little mysteries.
THE worst of times often brings out the best in people.
Since the pandemic drama wrecked our routine in Lithgow, LINC has teamed with Woolworths and Coles supermarkets in a 'second bite' program where fruit, vegetables, bread and other staples approaching the end of their shelf life are provided to anyone in need of a little help - self help from a table outside LINC in Railway Parade on specified days.
There's been no rush but a steady demand. Then there's the 'Pay It Forward' program backed by government and support agencies where in participating cafes you are invited to pay for a coffee to be provided to those for whom a coffee is a rare luxury.
Look for the signs and don't just walk away.
Brighter is better
WE'VE stated this obvious fact many times in the column but it's worth repeating - little things really can have a significant impact.
For two or three years Transport NSW has been ignoring pleas to replace blown tubes in fluoro lights beneath the awning at the old railway booking office on Bridge Street bridge.
It's been a depressingly gloomy stretch of street in the mid CBD of Lithgow, even worse than the lower end of Burns Lane.
But new tenants have quickly acted to easily rectify the problem and it's brought a bright new picture to the city streetscape.
Perhaps some other property occupiers could take note.