Mayor claims 'no precedent'

MAYOR Ron Clarke has refuted claims a precedent has been set by the Gold Coast City Council's decision to approve a discount despite late payment of a rates notice.

Cr Clarke responded to councillor Dawn Crichlow's concerns there were no special circumstances to justify the council's decision to reimburse almost $14,000 on an $86,046 rates notice despite payment 15 days late and no errors on the council's behalf.

"The majority of council approved (the decision)," Cr Clarke said.

"It is not a precedent - the discount has been reinstated due to extenuating circumstances before."

Approval occurred before full council last month despite council's recommendation against the discount because it would open the floodgates for other ratepayers to apply for discount on the grounds of error.

Council documents said the approval would negatively impact on the council's revenue budget and negate the incentive for ratepayers to pay their discounts on time.

Cr Clarke said the company involved paid about 3000 rates no- tices a year and had never made a late payment and therefore it was a special circumstance that warranted overturning council policy.

However, Cr Crichlow received confirmation from the director at the full council meeting, where the discount was approved, that the applicant did not have an exemplary payment record.

She said the decision was an insult to the people who had approached her for a discount in the past and called on people to come forward if they had a reason for not paying on time.

Cr Clarke said the council needed to be more lenient with its discount policy to assist ratepayers such as the applicant, who has stated they have an in- volvement with large development projects in the city and engaged the council for its building certifications.

"I believe that council should look at any circumstances like this," Cr Clarke said.

He said Cr Crichlow was incorrect about the applicant threatening to pull financial support from the Mayor's Ball.

"She made it up," Cr Clarke said.

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