Tough decisions for councils in light of budget cuts

Labour's county council candidate for the Westport electoral area has said that Mayo's local authorities will have tough decisions to make in regard to their budgets following an announcement by Environment Minister John Gormley that local authorities are to have their budgets cut back by almost seven per cent.

According to Councillor Keith Martin the cut represents “a massive attack on councils who are already struggling to cover the cost of the demands placed on them as the economy slips into recession. As building activity continues to dwindle, development levies have all but dried up as a source of funding for local authorities so the crisis is even greater than it might appear at first.”

He continued: “Westport Town Council has been allocated a budget which is 6.93 per cent less than last year’s allocation, couple this with inflation and a decline in revenue from other areas and Westport will be facing into a tough time when it comes to setting a rate for 2009.

“Mayo County Council are getting six per cent less than last year as is Ballina Town Council while Castlebar is on a par with Westport in getting a 6.93 per cent cut on last year's funding.

“This cutback can only be interpreted as a savage assault on local government and on local democracy. Minister Gormley came to office promising both local government reform, and equitable funding for our councils. It is now clear that he can deliver on neither.

“Because the Minister has cut our funding we have to look at cutting our cloth and at areas where we can raise more revenue to make up for this shortfall and the rate of inflation. Tough decisions will have to be made by the nine councillors and we have to strike a balance between protecting vital services and keeping the rate on businesses as low as possible,” concluded Cllr Martin.


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