Ballina councillors strike rate at first attempt

A lot of behind the scenes work among the elected members of Ballina Town Council over the past week saw the elected members and the Town Council management agree to a tiny reduction in the rate for 2010 at the annual budget meeting which was held in Ballina on Tuesday night.

Initially town manager Paddy Mahon had asked the members to provide for a one per cent increase in the rate to bring it up to 66.56 in his budget and managers report to the members. The adopted rate in 2009 was 65.90, but the members of the council working together identified a number of savings in different areas of the budget which would bring the rate down by 00.02 to 65.88 for 2010.

The changes from the council management’s proposed budget included reducing the expenditure on urban road maintenance from €450,000 to €430,000 and increasing the Christmas lighting budget from €31,000 to €35,350. They also increased the budget for urban road improvement from €160,000 to €200,000. They also inserted a new heading in the budget for footpath maintenance and allocated €45,000 for that, and earmarked €5,000 of that budget for salting and gritting of estates. They reduced the amount allocated for acquisition of lands to €255,000 as initially set out in the budget to €240,000, to counteract some of the increases the councillors also reduced the apportioned administration in the roads budget from €435,747 to €415,747. They also slightly increased the expected income from parking charges in the town from €743,00 to €750,000 for 2010.

Other changes made by the councillors saw them reduce the amount of money set aside by the council for development and action plans from €40,000 to €30,000, and the amount to be spent on twinning of the town from €17,000 to €14,000. They also cut the allocation for the acquisition of the Market Square from €80,000 to €70,000.

The councillors also looked to reduce the spending on the provision of vehicles from €30,000 to €20,000, but agreed to meet the council management half way and a figure of €25,000 was struck. The management also revised their figures for income from scavenging of the county council roads up to €45,000 from an initial €40,000. They also agreed to make upwards changes to the expected income from the Leigue burial ground from €18,000 to €20,000; the councillors had initially wanted to change it up to €25,000. The elected members also cut €20,000 off the planned expenditure on the parks and open spaces budget for the coming year, bringing it down to €250,000 for 2010. There was also an increase in the money agreed to be spent on contributions to other bodies going up from €30,000 to €34,500 for this year.

The final change that the councillors made to the budget saw them increase the expended income from grazing, rents, and stallage by €3,000 to bring it up to €31,000 for the year. The councillors had also initially not wanted to pay anything into the insurance fund, while the council management had wanted to put €20,000 into it for this year. Both sides agreed to setting aside €10,000 for insurance which came from a reduced contribution, of the same amount, to the remuneration of pensions from the apportioned administration section of the budget.

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