THE traders in Castlebar will benefit more significantly from increased efforts from the local town council to promote festivals and events in the town than any marginal reduction in rates.
That was the consensus of Castlebar town councillors at their annual budget meeting last week where it was agreed to freeze the level of rates traders must pay and channel whatever savings they can make into promotional events.
“The members felt that a small decrease in rates would disproportionally help the bigger ratepayers rather than smaller businesses and it was the view of the meeting that putting money into the promotion of events could be much more beneficial,” said Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Eugene McCormack.
The councillors agreed to contribute €20,000 to Gnó Mhaigheo for the promotion of festivals and an additional €10,000 to help support the Castlebar Tourist Office. Promotion of a Castlebar Heritage Trail also received funding, amounting to €10,000 while amenity grants amounted to €10,000.
In total €50,000 was set aside for these initiatives and councillors expect to make up that extra €50,000 by taking €20,000 from the winter maintenance plan and making up the rest from planning fees and increased revenue in parking charges.
Cllr McCormack told The Mayo News that he had encountered a lot of goodwill from local businesses who are in favour of the council’s progress at the minute and are not calling for rates reductions as they once did.
“People have been very impressed with the capital projects undertaken by the council in the town, many of which are either complete or nearing completion. They feel that the money the council has is being used prudently and are happy to be paying rates in that situation,” he said.
Cllr Brendan Henaghan did call for a measure to give ratepayers some relief with regard to parking charges as a gesture for their support of the council. Town Manager Seamus Granahan said that the council will look into it.
The €7 million draft budget as presented to the councillors was passed although Independent Cllr Frank Durcan did storm out in protest, claiming that Town Manager Seamus Granahan had not answered any of Cllr Durcan’s queries in relation to the budget. Mr Granahan refuted that suggestion but Cllr Durcan walked out.