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No rates hike in Westport

No commercial rates increase for Westport businesses for third year in a row

Michael Duffy

WESTPORT Town Council have, for the third year in a row, chosen not to raise the commercial rate applied to businesses in the town. At last week’s budget meeting the councillors chose to freeze the rate for 2012, at €63.55 in the euro, which is the same rate as 2011.
Councillors on the whole were in widespread agreement with the majority of the budget placed before them by town manager Mr Joe Beirne and after some tweaking towards the end of the meeting, the rate was struck after a three hour meeting.
Much of the early contributions at the meeting centred on the good news which came from Allergan last week (see page 8) before each councillor made observations and asked questions of the manager in relation to the different programmes of income and expenditure before them.
After dealing with the many different questions posed by the councillors, the manager was  left to find €40,000 to progress three separate projects which councillors spoke strongly about.
Cathaoirleach, Cllr Christy Hyland, said it was about time that Westport as a town looked seriously at installing a CCTV system. He said crime was down in the town but business people and parents alike would feel much better if a system was in place, as a deterrent to crime and anti-social behaviour.
“We have to move on this so I am proposing that we set aside €20,000 towards moving the project forward for once and for all,” said Cllr Hyland.
Despite several attempts by fellow councillors to convince him otherwise, Cllr Martin Keane said he did not want to see the amount for Amenity Grants being reduced in the budget from €40,000 to €30,000. €10,000 had been redistributed from the Amenity Grants to another fund but Cllr Keane, whose proposal to leave the Amenity Grants figure at €40,000, was seconded by Cllr Ollie Gannon, said there were many community groups in the town who could apply for the funding. Fellow councillors were also keen to emphasise to Cllr Keane that €30,000 had been set aside for Youth Initiatives in the town and that no organisation would be let down by the council in relation to funding.
There was much praise at the budget meeting for how well the rota of festivals had worked throughout 2011 but the council were keen to try and build on this themselves and Cllr Michael McLoughlin asked that €20,000 be ring-fenced for the organising of a big musical/cultural weekend at the height of summer.
€30,000 was also left in place to help with the running of the other festivals in town which sought council assistance in 2011, and it was eventually agreed that €18,000 of this would be given in direct assistance, with the other €12,000 going towards help with road closures, advertising and other administrative costs.
After a short adjournment, the council executive agreed that the monies needed to service the three requests of councils could be raised by increasing the expected take on planning revenue by €20,000 and increasing the amount expected to be raised by car parking charges by €5,000. They also reduced Emergency Expenditure budget by €10,000 and reduce the figure by Financial Management by €5,000. The budget was then formally proposed by Cllr Myles Staunton and seconded by Cllr Tereasa McGuire.