Fine Gael councillors are set to “resist at every opportunity” any attempts to abolish or “water down” the waiver system for refuse collection, if any such proposal comes before the council’s budget meeting.
The Galway City Council meets to discuss and decide its budget on Monday December 8 and councillors have expressed fears that City Hall officials will seek to abolish or curtail the waiver system.
The fear has arisen for two reasons. There has been a substantial cut in this year’s Local Government Fund to the city council. The fund received last year was €9,795,964 but this year it will be €9,124,005 - a drop of 6.9 per cent and a loss of €67,1959.
The shortfall will have to be made up somehow if City Hall is to maintain services for the coming year.
Furthermore, it is understood that the waiver costs the council in the region of €1 million a year - a massive amount in any year, but especially in a time of economic downturn. Proposals to alter the waiver system as it currently stands have occurred in previous budgets but councillors across all parties have resisted them.
Some 3,000 households throughout the city avail of the Domestic Refuse Charges Waivers. This relieves people on social welfare, or where the household income falls below a certain threshold level, from having to pay either the fixed or variable waste charges.
Fine Gael Cllr Brian Walsh said “more and more pressure” is coming on councillors and Local Authorities each year over the waiver.
“The waiver comes up every year and this year more than ever it will be an issue, especially with the cut in the Local Government Fund,” he told the Galway Advertiser. “Fine Gael will resist any attempt to abolish the waiver or water it down. It is the most vulnerable that avail of the waiver and when times are tough you cannot take it out on them