Westport town councillors have struck a two per cent rate decrease; even though a counter-proposal was made by Councillor Brendan Mulroy to delay striking a rate until a discussion about pay and display in the town is held at a traffic meeting.
At the start of the meeting, town manager Joe Beirne said the introduction of on street car parking will give a €150,000 income, “which is needed to balance the books and ease the burden”.
Fine Gael councillor Myles Staunton said that he is “very aggrieved” by the cut in central government funding, which is a domino effect of “mismanagement” on a national level. Cllr Staunton proposed a rate reduction of two per cent, with an increase of expenditure on the youth, amenity, and tourism, and a decrease on Christmas light spending.
Cllr Christy Hyland said that festivals in the town need to be supported in order to bring in more visitors. Cllr Ollie Gannon criticised the cost of maintaining Christmas lighting in the town. The cost of €55k “is very generous to say the least” and is in fact “money down the swannee”.
Independent councillor Martin Keane said that landlords in the town need to “reduce the colossal rents” in the town. Cllr Keith Martin also said that “rents, not rates, are crippling the town”. Cllr Michael McLaughlin said that landlords need to take responsibility and strongly urged that more money be invested in youth.
After an adjournment revised budget figures were presented by the town clerk Ann Moore, which increased spend on festivals, youth and amenity grants and made reductions of €56k from reducing money spent on: Gno Mhaigh Eo; twinning; conference study; entertainment; Christmas lights; road improvements; the development plan; maintenance of parks; street cleaning; environmental improvements and spend on street furniture. There would also be an increase of €4k on traffic fines, bringing the revised rate to 63.55 from the initial proposed rate of 64.84.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy throughout the meeting said that the pay and display income figure of €150k is not an accurate figure and he could not agree to the budget if the council agrees to pay and display for the town. The Fianna Fáil councillor said that he had difficulty supporting the budget as it meant pre-empting what the council was going to do regarding on street car parking. He said it will look “shambolic” if the council were to adopt the budget and then vote against pay and display at a later stage. Because of this he put forward a counter proposal to adjourn the meeting until after a traffic meeting in order to discuss on street car parking; as there is “a small bit of deception”.
It went to a vote to support this counter proposal. Cllr Keith Martin supported it, while the remaining councillors voted against it.
The two per cent decrease in rates was therefore struck.