Debs in a spin
Saturday, 5th January, 2013
By Erica Visser
City Council will reconsider its decision to cancel this year’s Civic Ball following a public backlash.
Council voted to cut back on services, including the debutante ball which 12 girls and their partners were due to take part in during May.
The girls were formally accepted last year but in late December they received a letter saying the event was cancelled.
The cost cutting move came in response to a demand from Perilya for almost $7 million in overpaid rates.
Mayor Wincen Cuy said yesterday that the ball had left Council thousands of dollars “in the red” in past years.
However, he said that he would go back to Council to negotiate a “cost-neutral” plan for the ball this year.
Meanwhile, the debutantes, their partners and families will have to wait.
More than half of the girls have bought their gowns which cost around $700 and upwards.
One mother, Sherry Brown, said that she had already spent $1500 before she found out it was cancelled.
“That’s for the dress, the shoes, the venue for the open house beforehand, the limousine...it’s a huge expense,” she said.
The other girls are concerned that they will not have time to order the dresses if the ball was to go ahead.
“We need to know now,” said another mother, Kylee Kappe.
“We would have rather a letter asking us to work with Council to help reduce costs instead of a simple, ‘the ball’s been cancelled, sorry for your disappointment.
“As far as the ball goes it’s about community spirit and it’s a tradition; they have a moral obligation to these girls.”
Ms Kappe said that the group met with Mayor Cuy on Thursday and he told them that the ball cost $40,000, although it was around $13,000 after ticket sales.
She said that she had emailed Mayor Cuy for a breakdown of the costs.
“I’ve emailed him because we want to work out what we’re going to do. We want to limit costs but it’s not up to parents to be selling cakes out in front of the Plaza.”
Ms Kappe said that parents were willing to compromise with changes such as a buffet instead of a three-course meal and no free water or soft drinks.
“We’d like to think that when you have 24 families involved that’s enough community spirit to make a difference.”
Council’s General Manager Frank Zaknich had said that a cost-neutral approach would be considered in 2014 but Ms Kappe said that the idea angered her.
“It’s too late. That’s no good for our girls. Many of them will be turning 18.
“In the scheme of $7 million it seems that saving about $15,000 is not going to make much difference.”
Ms Kappe’s daughter, Chelise, said that all of the girls were disappointed and that they had wanted to follow the tradition. Some of their mothers and grandmother had made their debut in Broken Hill.
“I’d been to last year’s and decided that the Civic Ball was the best...I had my heart set on it,” Chelise said.
Mayor Cuy defended the fact that the ball was on the list of cuts but admitted that the ball was important for the community.
“I will be taking a recommendation back to council at its meeting in January, trying to get some suggestions for a break even situation,” he said.
“I think from a civic morale point of view, and given now there’s only two deb balls in Broken Hill, it’s important.
“I think most citizens would agree that we had to look at reviewing anything we did. This was one of them. Where do you start and where do you stop?
“This is one of the things that has cost Council money in the past.”