The elected members of Ballina Town Council and the management executive of the council welcomed the striking of their annual budget this week, which saw no increase in the commercial rate for business in the town. Fine Gael councillor Mark Winters told the meeting, “We’re coming off the back of a very hard year for everyone and we have bucked the trend in not increasing the rates on the business people in the town. Everyone worked very hard and long on this budget, the increased efficiencies we have seen and the value for money we have been getting reflects very well on the council management. We’ve only had to increase the rate one year in the last five. We’ve also now started to make a serious push for Ballina to become the destination of choice and our allocation towards the marketing of the town can only lead to good things for the future.”
Independent councillor Gerry Ginty told the meeting that the budget sent out a message to the business people of the town. “By not increasing the rates in the town, we’ve shown the business people that we want them to succeed and thrive in this town. It’s been an especially tough year for people in the retail trade in the town”.
Fianna Fáil councillor Johnny O’Malley told the meeting that this budget was one that looked to the future and the continued development of the town. “The overall thrust that we and the management are going for is for the continued development of the town,” he said. “We have €20 million worth of capital projects in the pipeline and have allocated €40,000 for the promotion of Ballina and €50,000 for the Clarke Collection, which will increase the footfall and interest in the town hugely which will in the long run be a far better influence and outcome for the traders in the town. We looked at this budget to see what is the biggest way we can have a positive influence on the ordinary people in the town.”
Cllr O’Malley also called on the landlords in the town to have a serious look at the rents they are charging business in the town, because if a business stops trading there may not be a ready made replacement to take their place in the town.
Mayor Mary Kelly said she was happy that the budget had been struck and also expressed her delight that Ballina had been given its allocation for Rapid funding for 2010. “We received word just before Christmas that Ballina was to get a €250,000 allocation from the RAPID project (Ballina Town Council allocated €40,000 from its own funding to the project also ) and as soon as the implementation committee have their first meeting, I will report back to you on the projects that will done with this money.”