Hands off our roads budget - councillors

A proposal to cut the council’s roads budget by €125,000 has been met with strong opposition from councillors already frustrated with a lack of funding for road repairs.

At last week’s finance meeting to review the council’s financial position for the first half of 2013, head of finance Jimmy Dalton explained that the council needed to address a deficit of €286,770 for the second quarter of the year - and an estimated shortfall of almost €400,000 for the year.

However, there were objections from across the floor when Mr Dalton suggested reducing the council’s roads budget of €1.1 million by €125,000 to help make up the shortfall.

Cllr Johnnie Penrose was the first to object, saying he would not agree to the cut.

“That is 40 per cent of the overall saving we are looking for. I had a motion down recently about repairing cul de sacs and was told the council was thinking of taking them off the list altogether. We have to upkeep every road in this county, that’s our job,” he said.

Cllr Denis Leonard also pointed out that “with the lack of public transport in the Midlands a high percentage of residents depend on their cars. There is no point in having them drive over substandard roads”.

Cllr Paddy Hill was concerned at the fate of the works which had already been agreed on in various areas of the county: “Councillors have informed people that roads A, B, and C will be done, and now we have to go back and say they won’t be done?”

Meanwhile Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran branded the proposal “absolutely scandalous”, saying “The tar is lifting off our small secondary roads and we are about to take €125,000 out of our roads”.

However Mr Dalton said the issue was that such a small part of the council’s budget (around €2.5 million ) falls under the heading of ‘discretionary spend’, and that a huge part of that figure (€1.1 million ) is the council’s contribution to roads.

He added that the council had received an unexpected boost to their roads budget this year, with a €300,000 community fund grant, and a €900,000 grant for road restoration works.

“Some projects we had planned for 2014 or 2015 will be able to be brought forward to this year,” explained Mr Dalton, but he said he had “heard the members’ concerns”.

However councillors remained unmoved, and agreed to a proposal by Cllr Mick Dollard that a decision on the cut be put off until September

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