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Council budget increase

News
Council budget increase of 10m

OVERVIEW

Anton McNulty


Making the most of its €141 million budget to attract investment into the county is the key priority of Mayo County Council this year, according to the authority’s 2007 annual spending plan.
The Annual Budget, which has yet to be discussed by county councillors, reveals that the Council is to benefit from a €10 million increase on 2006.  The budget shows that over 64 per cent of the Council’s income for the 2007 budget will come from State grants which totals €90 million - an increase of nearly two per cent. One of the main features coming from the budget is the eight per cent increase in the Local Government Fund to €38 million and the road grant allocation of €31 million.
The budget, which has been signed off by Mr Des Mahon, County Manager, reveals that the Council has a capital programme of €115 million. This will allow the completion of a number of projects this year including the Civic Centre in Belmullet, the Charlestown by-pass, the Westport and Achill Fire Stations and the Library Headquarters in Castlebar.
The budget for the maintenance and improvement of the county’s roads in 2007 have not yet been made available but the rates provision for 2007 is €5.2 million which is a 5.4 per cent increase on 2006.
Last year €85 million in total was allocated for Mayo roads, with €46 million allocated by the NRA, €34 million of which went towards the N5 Charlestown by-pass. The Local Road Maintenance for 2007 will increase to €4 million but the Councillors’ Notice of Motion allocations will remain at €35,000 per councillor.
The Council has also targeted road safety in 2007 and has promised to continue to highlight the road safety campaign through imaginative targeted programmes. The budget has proposed €160,000 to be allocated for road safety and the development of a programme for young drivers.
Over €5 million was spent on the refurbishment programme of houses throughout the county in 2006, with the majority of rural houses in the course of being refurbished, with a substantial number completed. The programme will continue in 2007 and will see the programme extended to the scheme houses commencing with the most urgent cases. The programme includes the installation of central heating, painting and certain external works, with its schedule to be completed by the end of 2008.
The expansion of new social and affordable housing will continue with approximately 180 new units being developed, with 229 affordable housing units being provided in Mayo over the past three years. In 2006, construction started on 166 houses in Mayo with 41 taking place in the Castlebar Town Council district. While 166 housing units were started only 94 units were completed in the same year.
The Council proposes a new county rate on commercial and industrial property at €68.51, a 3.85 per cent increase on the current rate of €65.97.
Prominent events which will take place during the year, including the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the death of Admiral William Brown, have been provisioned for in the budget.

{mospagebreak title= Budget not sufficient}

Biggest ever budget – but it’s not sufficient to meet demands, says County Manager


MANAGER’S REACTION
ANTON MCNULTY


THE 2007 budget is the largest amount yet available to Mayo County Council – but is still not enough to meet the demands on the Council, according to the County Manager, Mr Des Mahon (right).
He says it is now up to the Council to maximise all the funding available to make sure the standard of living in Mayo is as good as in other counties.
A €141 million budget available between State grants and commercial rates, gives the Council €10 million more to spend than was on offer in last year’s budget. Some of the factors considered in the budget include the need to ensure a sound financial base for the Council in future years thereby enabling services to be expanded and developed and the need to provide balanced development throughout the county.
Over €90 million of the budget is made up of State grants and, according to the County Manager, there is a great need for the Council to maximise all the grants available for the benefit of the county.
“I set the parameters and we need to maximise the Exchequer and the EU grants to support the Council because 64 per cent of our money comes from State grants. They cover a lot of our services and we have to make sure the standard of living in Mayo is as high as other counties in the country.
“There is an insatiable demand for funding, and if we got ten times more money we would have been able to spend it. What is important is that we get value for money, efficiency and get our services running,” he said.
Mr Mahon said the Council have always lived within their budget and will save money this year after discontinuing the refuse collection service and by collecting revenue for water rates on non-domestic users.
He claimed that, despite the downturn in IDA-created jobs in the county, Mayo is still an attractive county in which to invest in business and would continue to develop its infrastructure to attract more investment.