With the switch over in responsibility for the water services in the country from local authorities to Irish Water coming into effect from the start of January, Director of Services for Mayo County Council, Paddy Mahon, gave the members of the council a presentation on the hand over at Monday’s meeting of Mayo County Council.
As part of his presentation, Mahon told the members that Irish Water had just sent the council the details of its proposed payments to the council for 2014 for their managment of the network on Irish Water’s behalf. However, Irish Water’s figure came in somewhat less than what the council had expected with a figure in the region of €21.8 million being proposed. This is more than €500,000 less than Mayo County Council is expected to need to run the service at the same level as has been up to date.
He also said that there were a number of staff who the council have employed on capital water projects that weren’t accounted for by the Irish Water budgeted figures and the council is in discussions with Irish Water to work out the differences in both side’s budgeted figures.
Cllr Joe Mellett expressed his fears for the future of the provision of new projects in the county with Irish Water taking control of the service. He said, “I fear into the future that if a small town like Ballinrobe is in need of a upgrade and it costs €10 million, Irish Water will look at it on a purely economic basis and put it on the long finger and end up investing that money into somewhere like Dundalk where there are more people living.”
Cllr Damien Ryan said that he agreed with Cllr Mellett’s fears and that the decision to set up Irish Water was a retrograde step and the handing over of €630 million in assets by Mayo County Council to the new semi-state body was a bad thing to see happening.