Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - BY FIONA MA­GEN­NIS

DROGHEDA Coun­cil­lors have re­jected pro­pos­als to re­duce their mu­nic­i­pal al­lo­ca­tion by €15,000 and voted unan­i­mously in favour of in­creas­ing the al­lo­ca­tion to €90,000.

The mo­tion to in­crease the bud­get from €75,000 to €90,000 rather than agree to the pro­posed coun­cil re­duc­tion to €60,000 was pro­posed by Coun­cil­lor Paul Bell (pic­tured) and sec­onded by Coun­cil­lor Ken­neth Flood. The coun­cil­lors voted unan­i­mously in favour of the move.

Head of Fi­nance Ms Ber­nadette Woods said the coun­cil are still in the process of bal­anc­ing the bud­get and re­vealed the bud­get meet­ing of Louth County Coun­cil will take place on Novem­ber 20th.

She said the coun­cil’s in­come is very re­stricted and with no ad­di­tional in­crease in rates or levies it is be­com­ing more and more dif­fi­cult to bal­ance the books.

She said the coun­cil are propos­ing an al­lo­ca­tion of €60,000 which coun­cil­lors could either al­lo­cate on the night or agree in prin­ci­pal.

Coun­cil­lor Kevin Cal­lan said he was very dis­ap­pointed to see the al­lo­ca­tion go­ing down de­scrib­ing the move as a ‘ ret­ro­grade’ step.

‘I would not be agree­ing to it in prin­ci­pal,’ he said. ‘ This will in­flu­ence the way I will vote on the over­all bud­get. This tonight is a bad move.’

Agree­ing, Coun­cil­lor Frank God­frey said: ‘We’re not go­ing to take it any­more. We’re the largest town in Irealnd and we de­serve bet­ter.’

Coun­cil­lor Tommy Byrne added: ‘I can’t see where the bud­get can be cut, it shouldn’t be cut.’

Coun­cil­lor Ken­neth Flood said he was dis­ap­pointed the al­lo­ca­tion is be­ing cut.

‘I don’t see any mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion with mem­bers. We had a bud­get work­shop but none of the points made were taken on board,’ he said. ‘If you want us to sup­port it we have to have a proper in­put.’

Mayor of Drogheda Coun­cil­lor Pio Smith also ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at the re­duc­tion, and said the dis­cre­tionary spend­ing was as im­por­tant as any other; Coun­cil­lor Oliver Tully also ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment and said be­fore the re­ces­sion Drogheda would have had a bud­get of €30 mil­lion.

‘€15,000 might not seem like an aw­ful lot but it is a huge amount to some lo­cal char­i­ties who are de­pen­dant on it to kepe the or­gan­i­sa­tion go­ing,’ said Coun­cil­lor Richie Cul­hane.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Joan Mar­tin said the coun­cil­lors had the power to in­crease the proeprty tax but had cho­sen not to do so.

‘You have the op­por­tu­nity to raise an­other one and a quar­ter mil­lion euro to be spent how you pleased and you chose not to do that,’ she said. ‘I re­minded you over and over that there wasn’t enough money for the bud­get.’

Coun­cil­lor Paul Bell said what he was hear­ing was that the coun­cil were now be­ing pun­ished for not in­creas­ing the prop­erty tax.

‘At no stage were we told that fail­ure to in­crease the prop­erty tax would di­rectly im­pact on our cit­i­zens,’ he said. ‘It was never spec­i­fied what ar­eas would be af­fected. I’m to­tally dis­sat­is­fied at the way our town is be­ing treated.’

How­ever, Ms Mar­tin took ex­cep­tion to the com­ment claim­ing Coun­cil­lor Bell was ac­cus­ing her of im­pos­ing sanc­tions on the Drogheda Mu­nic­i­pal area when this was sim­ply not the case. She said each of the three mu­nic­i­pal ar­eas would re­ceive the same al­lo­ca­tion.

‘I would not ac­cept that we are short chang­ing Drogheda in any way. All of the phases of the bud­get have been car­ried out in ac­cor­dance with leg­is­la­tion.’

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