By YVONNE McLEAN
THE Gold City Council's recent record $813 million budget was brought down well, mostly, in the spirit of bonhomie.
Those who did speak to Cr Rod Molhoek's first budet praised him. Mayor Cr Ron Clarke particularly said a fine job had been done and tough decisions confronted and made.
In the round table responses, one of the most astute and experienced councillors, the deputy mayor David Power, and had "no comment".
But where was the gallery?
This was the first budget within memory that was brought down without an intensely interested public.
Perhaps because of some of the open door pre-budget discussions and media reports the usually regular "gallery-ites" had heard it all before. But empty chairs behind the $25,000 glass separation partition?
One of the most regular of gallery visitors and spokesperson for Citizens for Democracy, Irene Wareing, said a lot of people were fed up with the lack of real caring for the community displayed by a number of the councillors.
"As far as being there at budget time, well, we got the mes- sage - we are not welcome, and the glass divider seemed to prove it," she said.
"But don't worry, our watchdog role is as strong as ever."
Mrs Wareing said a number of community groups were planning a public rally in August to highlight some of the concerns about council expenditures and decisions.
"There is a growing worry over the number of high rises the council is approving - some of them given the green light on "architectural merit," she said.
"We have heard concerns expressed that council cannnot possibly carry out the huge infrasture works listed within the time frame suggested.
"Why borrow money for jobs that won't or simply can't physically be done yet?
"The green levy goes up considerably and there is a feeling in the community that the land ratepayers are funding should have a legal guarantee that is preserved in perpetuity and not end up as a land bank for sale when space is at a premium in the future.
"In many ways there needs to be more accountability on council's behalf and we agree with councillors Dawn Crichlow and Daphne McDonald on their tough stance over the $25 impost on unit owners," Mrs Wareing said.