Councillors angered at having to carry overdraft for late Government grants

Members of Mayo County Council have this week expressed their anger at the fact that Mayo County Council ended up paying a large amount of money in bank charges to cover overdrafts the council had to take out to cover the cost of capital projects until central government sends its share of funding for projects it promises each year.

Mr Peter Duggan, chief financial officer of Mayo County Council, gave the elected members a report of the council’s finances this year up to the end of March, explaining that the incomes and outgoings of the council were in line with what was expected by the council up to the end of March. Fine Gael council whip, Cllr Joe Mellett, told the meeting that he welcomed the report but he was very concerned by the amount of charges and the level of the overdraft the council had to carry. He said his understanding was that the council was owed a large sum of money in Government grants which have not yet been paid. He went on to say he believed in the region of €10 million was owed, and that the council could incur overdraft charges of up to €200,000 in a year because of having to use the overdraft facility. Party colleague Michelle Mulherin agreed stating: “We sanction overdrafts here regularly, the last one was for water and sewerage schemes, but we’ll end up having to raise water charges to pay for it, it’s the Government that is causing this by holding on to paying us, they are the ones withholding what we are owed.” Cllr Gerry Coyle told the meeting that: “It’s scandalous that this council has to pay interest and get loans and overdrafts because the Government won’t give what they said they would, can we not charge the interest back to them? There is so much good work that could be done with that money around the county.”

Mr Duggan confirmed to the meeting that the council was owed a core debt of about €8 million, which is mostly for sewerage and water capital schemes going back over a number of years, and said he had met with the relevant authorities as recently as a fortnight ago and is in continuing to work on getting the money.”

Even with the core debt of €8 million owed to the council, county manager Peter Hynes stated“this council is as well placed as any local authority to face down the challenges in front of us, we have to walk a fine line in these times.”

 

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