Funding for organisations like AMACH LGBT+, a mass tree planting scheme, measure to tackle illegal dumping, and a significant increase for housing and homelessness services, have characterised the Galway City Council's budget for 2020.
At Monday's city council meeting, councillors passed the draft annual budget. The total budget will be €100 million, up from €87.5 million last year. The biggest spend, at 33 per cent of funding, will be on housing and construction. There were also substantial increases for the Homeless Services Grants by €3.6 million and funding for arts grants by €2.8 million.
The Social Democrats Galway City East councillor Owen Hanley has "broadly welcomed" the budget as "positive", and noted that its "themes of sustainability" across economic, social, and environmental sectors was "a reflection of the kind of council the public voted for in May's Local Elections".
Cllr Hanley said budget 2020 represented "big steps" in the local authority's efforts to address climate change. Funding has been put in place to implement a Pollinator Plan, a mass tree planting scheme, to tackle illegal dumping, and to raise awareness of the council's climate change awareness plan.
"Plans are in action to secure the positions of a biodiversity officer, a tree officer, and an environmental enforcement officer," he said, "who will all be rolling out new measures as we react to the threat of climate change."
Cllr Hanley also welcomed the "notable increase" for housing and homelessness services, and called on the council to construct more social and affordable housing. He also welcomed funding for Gaillimh Le Gailege, Galway Volunters, AMACH LGBT+, and Galway Women's FC.
'Galway is rated a category 5 Local Authority. That puts us at the bottom of the pile for priority. As a modern city that is not acceptable or sustainable'
However, Cllr Hanley was critical of aspects of the budget. While welcoming the increase for maintenance works and traffic management, he accused the council of having "an overly narrow view" of what transport responsibilities the local authority has.
"Working with other councillors we were able to secure a new budget for cycling enhancement," he said. "I see this as a concrete win for those of us looking to progress sustainable transport throughout Galway and look forward to working in implementing cycling improvements."
He also said said serious problems remain in terms of under-funding from central Government. "We're rated a category 5 Local Authority," he said. "That puts us at the bottom of the pile for priority. As a modern city that is not acceptable or sustainable."