Mayo County Council won’t have to worry about dealing with a €2.57 million hole in their budget if the collection rate for the household charge reaches between 75 and 80 per cent. County manager Peter Hynes told a special meeting of the council this Monday that, going by all indications following discussions with the Department of the Environment and the Minister, the potentially ‘catastrophic’ cuts would be avoided if those collection rates were met.
Head of finance for the council, Peter Duggan, told the meeting that as of September 2, the collection rate for Mayo was at 67 per cent and there were an additional 16,800 non registered properties that had been identified, using a number of different databases.
Mr Hynes also confirmed that enforcement procedures would be followed by the council through to court proceedings if necessary, but he also thanked the almost 35,000 households in Mayo who had paid the charge so far.
Durcan hits out at staff expenses
Independent Cllr Frank Durcan at the same special meeting hit out at the amount of expenses staff at Mayo County Council claimed last year. Cllr Durcan told the meeting: “The county manager claimed €22,390 in expenses, that’s €100 per working day.” He also informed the meeting that “former county manager Des Mahon was paid €3,000 in expenses last year. What did he get that for? He’s a freeloader as far as I’m concerned”.
The independent councillor also took aim Fine Gael councillor Joe Mellett who was paid €3,083 by the council, and Cllr Durcan demanded to know why. In total, Cllr Durcan told the council that one member of staff claimed more that €20,000, two claimed more than €15,000, 30 claimed €10,000 or more and 255 claimed more than €5,000 in expenses.
County manager Mr Hynes responded by telling the meeting that he assumed the figures were correct as they came from the council themselves. About his own expenses he said: “It was money spent in doing my job, which is not just sitting at this bench. It’s a job that can be 24 hours a day seven days a week and involve a lot of travel in order to gain investment opportunities for the county.”
Cllr Mellet responded saying: “In response to Cllr Durcan, it’s a very simple answer. I was in Argentina representing the county in relation to an Admiral Browne event with some officials at my own expense. It was at the time of the ash cloud and we were stranded out there and had to get home. So I paid for all the flights back home myself and I was reimbursed by the council for the cost of those after they were paid out by the insurance money.”