Random invoices and council wages paid from Croagh Patrick car-park

A Mayo county councillor has highlighted some questionable accounting techniques being applied to car-parking income generated at Murrisk Car-park, where tens of thousands come to climb the pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick every year - which includes payments towards salaries of council staff and random invoices that could come from previous years.

Calling for Croagh Patrick car-park takings to be spent in Murrisk, where the car-park at the foot of Croagh Patrick is based, Councillor Peter Flynn has decried the fact that thousands of euros are deducted annually, rather than being re-invested in the Murrisk tourist area.

At the Westport-Belmullet MD held in Belmullet Civic Offices on Monday last, Cllr Flynn referred to information supplied regarding annual income at the car-park and which revealed that deductions were being made to pay towards such things as a Traffic Warden's salary and the refurbishment of toilets away from the car-park.

Noting that income generated from Murrisk car-park varied between €15,000 and €30,000 over recent years, with a peak of €39,000+ in 2021, Cllr Flynn said the figures showed just how much income is taken from the carpark and 'reaffirms the amount of money Murrisk Development Association should have been receiving but has not'.

He told council management: "The likes of this community rely on the trust and goodwill of the executive of the council that they are getting what they are duly owed. This is the only paid car-park of its type in the county. Not one cent is paid at Moore Hall, or Knock Shrine. Murrisk Development Association were not advised of any change to the regulations and have so lost out over the last seven or eight years on funding.

"We can see the money was used for the refurbishment of toilets elsewhere, that have nothing to do with the carpark. I am really disappointed that someone came in and took the money and really disappointed it happened under our watch.

"For the September meeting I want revised by-laws to be on the agenda, so we are clear on what is deductible and not, and agreement on what is deductible. The traffic warden's salary is charged against the car-park income also - yet as far as I know, not one parking fine has been issued in that car-park."

Cllr Brendan Mulroy seconded the proposal for the item to be on the September meeting agenda.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Christy Hyland stated: "When you are talking about wages, the people there are already employed by the council, so I am baffled why that would be coming out of the income from the carpark at Murrisk, where people go up, climb Croagh Patrick and pay for their parking. They are already employed by Mayo County Council on a staff salary."

Cllr John O’Malley said it was strange to see that €39,000 was collected in 2021, ‘when people were under lockdown and could not move’, adding, “I would like to know how that was worked out.”

In a written breakdown of costs associated with the car park in Murrisk from 2012 – 2022, Jim Power, stated that general maintenance in the car-park included wage costs associated with upkeep of toilets in the car park, (cleaning, emptying bins, providing toilet paper, blockages etc ); also pay & display machines are checked and fixed and a portion of mileage costs are charged to this. A portion of the Traffic Warden costs was also included in costs. Also, deductions are made for the Toilets on the shoulder of Reek - St. Mary’s Church invoice the council on behalf of a worker who 'looks after these toilets and fixes if there is a problem'. He added that such invoices 'come in randomly and sometimes relate to previous years'.

Director of Services, Catherine McConnell, stated: "Our outdoor staff are charged against job quotes so are paid out of these, for example, surface dressing, street cleaning; part of their wages would be charged to the maintenance of the toilets that need to be inspected and cleaned over the summer months and weekends; if this were to change, we would have to look at whether we could continue to do such jobs, such as toilets management etc."

 

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