Clarke and Crichlow battle over discount
By JADE BILOWOL
THE Gold Coast City Council's decision to provide a discount of almost $14,000 despite late payment of a rates notice has set a dangerous precedent, according to councillor Dawn Crichlow.
Cr Crichlow said Mayor Ron Clarke was a major driver behind the council's decision to consider the case a "special circumstance", after the applicant lodged requests to the Mayor's office for the discount on the $86,046 bill despite payment 15 days after the due date.
She said the applicant's story, that changed from not receiving the notice to an employee not recognising the company name on the notice in an administrative mix-up, did not warrant the waiving of Gold Coast City Council policy.
"I've been on the council for 14 years and pensioners come into my office saying, 'I've been in hospital during the discount period can I still get it' and I've gone 'no it's only for if you pay your rates on time and we cannot make allowances'," Cr Crichlow said.
"We have never, ever allowed the waiving of the discount before," she said.
Cr Crichlow said the decision paved the way for all ratepayers who had ever had a valid reason and were not allowed a discount to make a noise.
"I say to people come forward if you have any feeble excuse in the future," she said.
"Why didn't some of these people who pushed this through stick up for the pensioners and their $52 discount?
"It's about looking after the big boys".
Council documents reveal the applicant stated "its involvement with large development projects within the city and engaging council for its building certification" in its request for the discount.
Cr Crichlow said the applicant also threatened to pull its support from the Mayor's Ball if it did not receive the discount.
"Please explain what special circumstance there is because there is not, he has set a precedent," she said.
"The notice was sent out to the correct address.
"It is disturbing the mayor has changed that...he is being irrational in what he is doing and the councillors know there has never been an allowance before.
"An interest should be declared - one has to ask why they have allowed such a dangerous precedent to happen."
Cr Crichlow said records showed the mayor came to the Finance and Internal Services Committee meeting where the discount was approved before it went to full council for the first time.
Cr Clarke disagreed and said he had attended the meeting six times.
"The mayor came especially to that meeting - he had never been to that meeting before," Cr Crichlow said.
She said several councillors had pledged to vote against the discount before changing their minds to give the move a majority vote.