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Bridging budget gap is ‘bloody horrendous’ - Hynes


Anton McNulty

The Chief Executive of Mayo County Council has described as ‘bloody horrendous’ the difficulty in bridging the gap for the council’s annual budget.
The council’s estimated €120 million budget for 2018 is due to be discussed by councillors on November 27 but there was a degree of concern amongst them over what they will expect to have to spend in the coming 12 months.
The matter was raised at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council where some councillors questioned the whole budgetary process and others claimed they were only getting the ‘crumbs from the table’.
In response, Mr Hynes agreed that the budgetary process is ‘dysfunctional’ and you could not design a system which would generate as much heat in the Council chamber. He acknowledged that it was an issue which needed to be looked at but at the moment they were working to the timescale laid down at national level.
He said that the next four weeks were the hardest in the whole year for the finance department and warned that they were not exaggerating their financial difficulties.
“Right now if anyone wants to look at the figures we have, [you] will be in my office in the morning at nine o’clock and you are more than welcome. If you can help find where we can bridge the gap and I’m not going to put a figure on it at the moment; but it is bloody horrendous.
“We have managed to get the deficit down by €1.04m over the last three years in the teeth of the most appalling economic conditions. The down side is that we are still on a €4.3m of a revenue deficit which puts us in the top third of local authorities. We need to get mid table not because of the numbers but because if we don’t we risk losing control of our own destiny. You don’t have to go too far and I am not going to name names to see what happens when you lose your destiny; and it is not easy and not pretty.

‘Not exaggerating’
“We are not exaggerating the difficulties we are facing this year. I personally thought we had overcome them last year and hoped we were over the hump. We may have been optimistic, we will wait and see, in a fortnights time when we get the exact figures,” he said.
A discussion on the budget had not been on the agenda for yesterday’s monthly meeting in Áras an Chontae but was raised under the Local Government’s Auditor’s Report.
Crossmolina-based Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Loftus was among one of the first to raise the question of spending for each of the four municipal districts.
Independent councillor Christy Hyland said that if they wanted the municipal districts to work they should be getting funding for €1m instead of the proposed figure of €93,000 which he said the West Mayo area is to receive.
“How dare you ask me to accept €93,000?” he told the Council Executive. “I’m not going to waste my time coming in here on November 27. If we don’t do a budget, we don’t do one, let the department sort it out. I’m not going to insult the people of west Mayo and tell them, here is €93,000 and off with you.”

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