A price tag of more than €450,000 for renovating the council chamber in County Buildings is “outrageous” and never should have needed to cost that much.
This is the view of Independent councillor James Charity who was reacting to confirmation by the Galway County Council that contracts have been signed with Carey Building Contractors, Tuam Road, to carry out the works. Following further queries from Cllr Charity, the contract price was confirmed to be €449,268.47, excluding VAT. Works on the council chamber started yesterday.
It had been initially estimated that the extension and upgrade of the chamber would cost c€200,000. However, according to the Annaghdown-Oranmore ward councillor, specific tender prices were not disclosed to the elected members, nor were the identity of the those who tendered, prior to the contracts being signed.
“In an era were Galway County Council’s budget has been continuously cut over the last number of years, this is simply an outrageous level of expenditure to accommodate an additional nine councillors,” said Cllr Charity.
The Independent grouping on the county council have argued that the additional nine councillors elected last May could be accommodated in the current chamber by inserting another row of seats at minimal cost in room’s large open section. Health and safety requirements prevented this.
It is understood that a large portion of the expenditure will be used to upgrade IT facilities in the chamber, but Cllr Charity has also questioned the wisdom behind this.
“This is occurring at a time when we can’t find sufficient finance to simply fill potholes on roads which are in a terrible condition throughout the county,” he said. “This money could have been put to much better and effective use.”