Government intervention needed to balance council books, claims Flynn
MAYO County Council must be given ‘significant’ financial assistance by the Government if it is to bridge a budget deficit going into 2023, according to a Fine Gael councillor.
Westport-based Councillor Peter Flynn told a meeting of Mayo County Council last week that increased costs in energy prices and other inflationary costs mean the local authority alone will not be able to balance its books.
Speaking during a motion to adopt the rate for the 2023 Local Property Tax (LPT), Cllr Flynn – who had proposed reducing the base rate of LPT by 15 percent – said that regardless of the amount of LPT raised in 2023, it will not be enough to cover the increased costs facing the council.
“We are going to have to have a government intervention here, and there is no point thinking otherwise. If we think we are going to go into a normal budget in November this year we are fooling ourselves. We need an absolute government intervention here and a complete overhaul of the way we do our business … we need a serious injection of money in January next year, and that is the real message out of here today,” he told the meeting.
Cllr Flynn commented that Mayo County Council may be facing an energy-cost increase of €2 million on last year, while the national pay agreements may add another €4 million to €5 million onto the Council’s wage bill.
“We are also looking at huge increases in material costs… and [I] believe we will be anything but at least a €10 million short in terms of overall deficit going into 2023,” he said.
The councillors voted to reject Cllr Flynn’s proposal to cut LPT, adopting instead the recommendation of Mayo Council Council’s executive not to change the base rate of the LPT for 2023.
The LPT for 2023 is expected to raise up to €8 million for Mayo County Council. Councillors were informed the revenue will be used for matching funding for capital projects, as well as discretionary spending.
Director of Finance Peter Duggan told the meeting that adopting a budget for 2023 will be difficult, which is why it is important the LPT is not reduced.
“The upcoming budget which the members will be considering in two to three months time will be a very difficult and challenging one. There will be a number of challenges facing us and members are well aware of them. There are the energy increases we are facing, the national pay agreements which are under consideration, and there are also other inflationary pressures… all these matters will have to be considered,” he said.
The Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Kevin Kelly, said that households undoubtedly face a difficult period ahead and it is important that services are not impacted.
“There are many different aspects to the forthcoming budget which will be difficult, but we will ensure we produce a budget which maintains to the greatest extent possible our current service delivery,” he said.