‘A year of standstill’ — county commercial rates not to increase

At the adjourned Mayo County Council meeting last Friday a rate of a zero per cent increase was negotiated by elected members and council officials during the four and a half hour meeting — the result of which leaves the current commercial rate at €70.16, making 2009 “a year of standstill”, according to county manager Des Mahon.

Next year’s budget predicted a decrease in expenditure (5.1 per cent ) and decrease in income (six per cent ). A proposal by Mr Mahon for a two per cent commercial rate increase as outlined in the draft 2009 budget was rejected by both sides of the house, who, after discussing the remaining five programmes — development management; environmental; recreation and amenity; agriculture, education, health and welfare; and miscellaneous, put forward no increase in rates due to the current economic situation.

Fine Gael whip Councillor Paddy McGuinness criticised the mismanagement at national level which has led to Mayo County Council feeling the brunt of decreases in spending. Speaking on behalf of his side of the house he said that as “modest” as a two per cent rate increase is “that in this current climate it is not possible” to put this into effect.

Fianna Fáil whip Cllr Pat McHugh concurred and said that these were “extraordinarily difficult times” and that for some businesses it was hard to “even meet the demand of a zero per cent increase.”

Cllr McGuinness also outlined the recommendation that water metre rates and sewage rates both decrease — water to decrease to three cents; a total of €36,000 and sewage to reduce to five cents; a total of €56,000. However, there would be an increase in metre rental from €5 to €10.

Both spokesmen also recommended that notice of motion money would increase from €31,500 per councillor to €38,500 and both sides were adamant that environmental enforcement throughout the year, in prosecuting those who illegally dump litter, should be implemented with gusto.

The county manager agreed with the decrease in the water and sewage rates, and increase in metre rental, however negotiations had to be entered into as regards the notice of motion money which was unanimously negotiated to €35,000 per councillor.

Des Mahon concluded the meeting by saying that in 2009 “affairs will be managed well”.

Prior to the conclusion of the meeting the determination of a resolution to fire brigade service in respect to domestic charges had also to be negotiated by councillors — that of €550 per hour for a house fire and €100 for a chimney fire.

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