Council will run out of cash unless Government intervenes

Head of Finance Tom Gilligan

Head of Finance Tom Gilligan

Mayo County Council will run out of money unless there is government intervention soon, a top official said this week.

Speaking at the July meeting of the local authority Tom Gilligan, head of finance for the local authority, told the meeting that: "It is ablsoutely imperative that central government steps in and bails us out.

"Otherwise we will run out of cash - we won't be able to clean a street, repair a road or house, if we don't get it sorted in the next couple of weeks."

Mr Gilligan was speaking to the council on the rates collection for 2019 which showed a one per cent increase on the amount of money collected the previous year - but he warned that the current pandemic was going to see a very different outcome this year.

He said: "In relation to the rates, they make up 24 per cent of our income. We did a calculation at the start of the pandemic and reckon there is about €15 million of rates that are going to be impacted due to the pandemic. We are very much a county that depends on tourism and hospitality - to any rate payer, please come and talk to us. It will be a very different story for 2020, 21 and 22, I have no doubt."

He also called on business in the county to apply for the business restart grant that is available, saying that the council anticipated that there would be 3,500 to 4,000 rates payers who would qualify for the grant, but so far only 1,500 have applied for it.

Fianna Fail Cllr Paul McNamara said that he didn't see a number of business being able to pay any rates this year, telling the meeting that: "It is a very serous problem and in my opinion, I don't think rates will be paid at all by a lot of the businesses in 2020 and that is why the government needs to stand up and let our councils know what packages will be coming and what waivers will be given, because if the message is it is a three months waiver on rates, the rate payer will not buy in.

"For the next two or three years you will be writing letter after letter to those businesses to see can they engage and pay the rates and you can't blame them, they have been closed for five months. I understand your position and your income, but if it is not addressed at government level you will have a serious problem.

"One other serious matter we will have to address is the reduction of the rates of VAT on the hospitality sector, reducing it for four or five months won't work, it needs to be looked at to be reduced for a year or two before we get the hospitality sector back."

Acting chief executive of the council, Peter Duggan, told the meeting that he was waiting to see what is in the July Stimulus Package the government is due to announce and he expected there would be some form of relief included in it. When pressed by Cllr McNamara if there was just a package to cover three months of rates, what would the council do - Mr Duggan said the council would be looking for at least another three month package.


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