Units levy loses McDonald?s vote

FOR the second consecutive year, Palm Beach councillor and head of the water sustainable committee, Cr Daphne McDonald voted against the 2005-2006 budget.

It was a conscience vote with Cr McDonald making known to all her colleagues especially finance committee chairman Cr Rod Molhoek, her absolute disagreement with a decision to impose an additional $25 on owners of all strata titled units in developments with more than five units.

Cr McDonald who protested loud and strong over the impost at early committee meetings, had no argument to put at the budget reading, but her hand raised in objection said it all.

However volatile Cr Dawn Crichlow did have plenty to say over the additional impost on unit owners.

"I am angry and very disappointed over this decision," she said.

"Council is trying to catch owners of luxury apartments who pay far too little general rates, but the vast majority of those caught will be pensioners and self-funded retirees. Council will post off hundreds of letters to the Department of Housing that provides one-bedroom units to pensioners and others, and the Department will not be too happy about that. For the sake of an additional $1.3 million this council has done the wrong thing," she said.

Cr Bob La Castra responded by saying that in every budget there were winners and losers. He said the budget had to have hard decisions. It was good to see a majority of present councillors with the gumption to make them.

Responding to that obvious sting in the tail, former long-serving finance committee chairman, Cr Eddy Sarroff said he congratulated Cr Rod Molhoek on an excellent budget.

But he warned that the additional impost on unit owners would have far-reaching consequences, causing undue hardship because of its unfairness. Cr Sarroff said it was pleasing to see the present finance chairman receiving the support every chairman should expect.

Last year, Cr Sarroff resigned from the finance chair because he claimed a lack of support from several levels of council including his colleagues.

Later, Cr McDonald said for years a number of residents from her division including elderly people who had built humble homes on beachfront land and young married couples trying to get established, had confronted enormous rates bills because of spiralling land values.

"Now, owners of units are facing financial problems through an extra $25 on their general rates. And believe me, that 50 cents a week is a lot when you live on a dollar-bydollar basis. Besides it is a very unfair system which catches people who can least afford it. I'll be fighting all the way for owners of modest units to be spared this week impost in the next budget," she said.

Last year, Cr McDonald was the lone voter against the budget due to an increase in the water rate without reducing the service fee.

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