Ballina Town Council’s annual budget meeting wound up earlier this week with Progressive Democrat Town Councillor Tommy Cooke calling on the Mayor of the town to give up the annual allowance allocated to her. This year’s budget for Ballina Town Council has a figure of €13,000 allocated for the Mayor’s expenses over the course of the year, but Cllr Cooke wondered would it be better for the town in the current economic climate if the Mayor didn’t take up this allowance. “On my own behalf when and if I become Mayor of the town, due to the current economic situation I would hand back the €13,000 that has been allocated for the Mayor’s expenses and I hope that all of you would consider this,” stated Cooke.
Independent Councillor Mary Kelly hit back at Cllr Cooke’s suggestion, saying that “I wouldn’t back this plan, the Mayor has done a fine job representing the town of Ballina and will continue to do so. I know the amount of work that goes into being the Mayor of the town and the amount you have to give up in both your work and family life to do the job of Mayor. Also I didn’t hear you say that you would give up your allowance as a councillor at all.” To which Cllr Cooke responded that “I will if the rest of the members do.”
The budget for 2009 has also seen a proposed cut in the amount of money allocated for foreign travel for official council business from €10,000 to €6,500 for the new year. Fine Gael Councillor Mark Winters pointed out that the he wanted the rate payers of Ballina to know that any foreign travel conducted on the council’s behalf is done on a very stringent budget. “I would like the people out there to know that the council is very frugal when it comes to foreign travel and that everything we do in relation to this is kept in budget and that last year we allocated €10,000 for this purpose and we only spent €6,500 last year and that’s what we have allocated this year as has been our position over the last few years.”