O'Keefe, O'Leary spar over senior tax plan
St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe is accusing a councillor, and potential mayoralty opponent, of grandstanding over comments about seniors with fixed incomes.
Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary, who has acknowledged she is considering a run for the mayor's chair in September's election, called on the city to do more for seniors who are enduring financial hardship.
O'Keefe was skeptical about O'Leary's intentions when she broached the issue during Monday evening's regular council meeting.
"We voted to do the best that we can for seniors in budget 2013," O'Keefe said.
"Coun. O'Leary voted for the review that we are doing now of the impact of taxation and rising assessment on senior citizens."
O'Leary denied the mayor's assertion, and said she will continue to seek ways to reduce the tax burden on seniors.
She also said she is worried that the issue will get lost in the shuffle after the fall election.
"Right now, there are seniors and low-income individuals in our community who are very concerned about whether or not they're going to get squeezed out of their homes," she said.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us to look at immediate solutions."
She said costs have surged in the city, particularly with assessments, and that there is nothing prohibiting councillors from seeking new information about the cost of living.