UPROAR OVER PLANNED €15K BUDGET CUT
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.’