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Council wants Covid costs covered

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FACTS AND FIGURES Peter Duggan, Head of Finance, Mayo County Council. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Anton McNulty

WITH all eyes on Paschal Donohoe today (Tuesday) as he delivers Budget 2022, a senior council official has warned that without further Covid-19 funding from central government, the council will have to reevaluate their own annual budget.
With the majority of the public health measures and restrictions to be lifted late in October, the Director of Finance with Mayo County Council reminded councillors that the costs for Covid-19 still have to be paid.
Last year, Mayo County Council received €4.1 million in Government supports in relation to costs occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and from loss of income.

Knock-on effect
Peter Duggan, Director of Finance, told yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council that if supports promised for this year do not materialise, it will have consequences on the Council’s annual spending for 2022.
Mr Duggan said that the Government promised additional support if it were needed in 2021, and the restrictions that were ongoing mean that it will be needed.
“We have been under Level 5 lockdown from I think December 28 to early summer – it was a longer period of lockdown that the previous year. As a result, support is required for the coming year,” he argued. “As I outlined in the report, I have included €2.7 million, which is what those costs and loss of income equate to for the eight months until the end of August.
“Obviously I don’t need to tell you if that support isn’t forthcoming, of the significant impact that it will have on the current year’s finances – we have three months left in the year – and the implications it will have for Budget 2022.
“We have significant deficits for the current year, which will have to be recovered starting at Budget 2022. It is important we all get that message out that that support is needed for the coming year,” he said.
Mr Duggan did acknowledge the support that local authorities have received, including rate waivers and small business assistance schemes.
The issue of the council finances was raised by Crossmolina-based councillor Michael Loftus, who asked for a report on the level of State funding that will be sought by the council.
The first budget meeting of Mayo County Council has been scheduled for November 29, when councillors will be asked to adopt a budget.