City council facing five million euro gap in finances

Galway City Council is facing a shortfall of some €5 million as it attempts to balance its books for the year, it emerged this week.

Galway chief exective Brendan McGrath warned councillors of the significant gap in the city’s finances during a discussion on future funding for Macnas, and referred to the gap repeatedly throughout a meeting of the local authority on Monday.

“The challenge we, as your executive, have is trying to present a balanced budget to you in a couple of weeks’ time that reflects all the priorities that you want to see,” Mr McGrath told councillors during the meeting. “The list presented is far from exhaustive. We have been working on a draft budget and I’m not exaggerating in saying the gap between the money we can take in and what we need to spend is virtually unbridgeable.”

Mr McGrath warned councillors that repeated requests and approvals of funding for various local groups had put a strain on the city’s finances, while the local authority was also struggling to identify funding sources for a number of areas, such as staffing and vital improvement works around the city.

“The main street in this town [Shop Street] is in diabolical condition,” he said. “I’ve been asked to provide money for South Park, but where is that going to come from? Saillin to Silverstrand is a sine qua non, it’s absolutely vital. The cost is €12 million; we might get some from central sources, but we have to come up with some of that money ourselves. We have increased staff costs arising from the Haddington Road Agreement that have to be paid for and met. Sports capital grants for Cappagh Park have to be provided for. Macnas funding has to be provided for. The money has to come from somewhere. I’m not going to mention Capital Of Culture figures, because we’re in a bidding process, but we are going to have to put serious money into that. It’s an investment in the future.”

The council is currently undertaking a review of its work plans and resource requirements for 2016.

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