Councillor Michael Loftus
A FIANNA Fáil councillor has warned the senior executive of Mayo County Council that it faces a revolt if GMA funding is taken from councillors.
Members of the Ballina Municipal District agreed their General Municipal Allocation (GMA) spend for 2022 at the district’s April meeting and those gathered heard €94,000 in extra funding had been secured for the district.
The Ballina Municipal District will receive €500,000 through the GMA fund, which is primarily given to community groups and organisations at the discretion of local councillors.
Crossmolina-based councillor Michael Loftus welcomed the allocation of GMA funding for 2022, but also warned against any suggestion of taking it away in the future.
“Kevin Kelly [Chief Executive of Mayo County Council] is gobsmacked that we have a GMA, and if he had his way he would take it all off us, because they have no GMA in Galway. I would be fearful that if he thinks that way he will have a revolt on his hands. I hope he doesn’t,” he warned.
The increased GMA funding for 2022 was sourced from the Local Property Tax fund. While welcoming it, Cllr Loftus bemoaned the fact that the Ballina area was receiving less than other parts of the county.
“We got €94,000 extra, but in Claremorris [Municipal District] they got €125,000 extra. I keep harping on about this, but we give over €1 million to the council every year in parking charges from this community, yet what we get is limited. It is very unfair. It is a system decided not by us but by the management,” he said.
In reply, Director of Services Tom Gilligan agreed that Ballina does not get enough funding considering the status of the town, but he stated that the Claremorris district gets more funding because it has more councillors.
Bigger allocation needed
“The problem with that system is that it isn’t nuanced enough and doesn’t take into account the fact Ballina is such a strategic town in the north of the county … I agree with Michael that there should be a bigger allocation for this MD and we are being penalised, not deliberately, but that is the way the system works,” he said. Fine Gael councillor John O’Hara also welcomed the increase in funding, stating that both he and Cllr Annie Mae Reape voted for an increase in property tax when it was not popular to do so.
“I compliment the extra money because it is very important for communities to know there is money there. We voted for it [increase in property tax], and I am delighted to get a return for it. We got the slaps and the phone calls on many occasions … you win some and lose some, but it is great to help people,” he said.