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Ballina councillors back €5m loan to buy land

Ballina councillors back €5m loan to buy land

Anton McNulty

Ballina Town Councillors have approved a request by the town management to seek a €5 million loan to fund land acquisition and a number of completed capital projects in the town.
The loan request was made to finance the purchase of land and assets accumulated in Ballina to the value of €11.45 million with the council to pay back €320,000 every year over 20 years.
Paul Benson, Senior Executive Officer with Ballina Town Council, explained that the council could fund €6.45 million from its own resources but needed to borrow €5 million to keep its ‘head above water’. He said provisions for these payments has been made in the revenue account. Town Clerk Carmel Murphy added that the council were ‘more than capable of covering the costs’.
The loan request was supported by all of the councillors bar Fine Gael councillor Mark Winters, who felt €5 million was a ‘considerable amount of money’ to be borrowing.
“€5 million is no small change and €320,000 a year is a huge debt for the ratepayers. This council has always been prudent financially, and there has been no major borrowing in my time in the council,” Cllr Winters said.
“The money is for nine to 12 projects, but there is no individual breakdown of the costs. I propose that we fund as we need for individual projects as I do not see the need to approve €5 million in one go. I think we need to be careful going forward,” he explained.
Mr Benson responded that the Council’s cash flows were needed for other projects in the pipeline, and that while the details of the projects were available, they were not all for ‘public consumption’.
Cllr Gerry Ginty said the town could not stand still. “€5 million sounds a lot, but is not a huge amount of money and we will get the value of it in years to come … We can’t stand still, we either move forward or get swallowed up,” he said.
The loan proposal was also supported by Meara of Ballina, Cllr Peter Clarke, and Cllrs Frances McAndrew, Willie Nolan, Barry McLoughlin and Josie Egan.

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