FERMOYS MOST DIFFICULT BUDGET EVER
Members of the Fermoy Town Council gathered for the budget meeting on Tuesday night and high on the agenda was a decrease in business rates, which some councillors had hoped would be 4%.
The reality was very different, however, when town clerk, Ray Owens confirmed the town council’s budget had been cut by central government by 11%. Last year the budget was reduced by 9%, which in addition to the 11% this year meant cuts totalling €180k over the two years.
This allowed for a reduction of 1% in business rates in the town, but after much scrutiny and debate, the majority agreed with Cllr Noel McCarthy’s suggestion for €2k to be taken from the Christmas lights fund and Cllr Coleman’s request for the €3k conference money to be scrapped, which would allow a total of 1.5% rates cut for the business people in the town.
Cllr Michael Hanley had been hoping for a 4% decrease in the rates, and was hugely disappointed, walking out of the meeting when he heard the amount that had been agreed.
“I walked out of the meeting because it was conducted in an appalling fashion, not worthy of a budget meeting. The obvious reluctance of management to support a significant reduction in rates leaves a lot of big questions to be answered by the councillors.
"There are 2 more years of appalling hardship ahead of us in this town, in terms of the flood plan, and in my opinion, the meeting was completely pointless and fruitless when it comes to supporting the businesses who have suffered so badly, and the reduction does not reflect the business crisis in this town.”
Cllr Noel McCarthy agreed with Cllr Hanley adding he could understand his disappointment with the rates reduction.
“I had been hoping for a better rate reduction being a businessman myself but, when I saw the figures in front of me, it just wasn’t possible to do this without cutting services to the people of Fermoy. The ratepayers must understand that if they were outside the boundary, they would be paying more. Cork County Council haven’t cut their rates and Fermoy town have cut theirs by 3.5% in two years. If the money isn’t there then there simply isn’t anything that we can do.”
Cllr McCarthy added that it was one of the ‘most difficult budgets’ that he has seen and he blamed the cut in local government funding for this. Cllr Seamus Coleman said that he was happy with the abolishment of conference expenses, having tried for the past 7 years to do so.
“I feel that Fermoy Town Council showed leadership by getting rid of conference expenses. I also feel that the rates decrease is a plus, every business is under pressure but the town council is also under pressure. People need to realise that we are lucky we can retain the services that we have. Overall, it’s a budget that will need to be monitored closely throughout the year, and the leisure centre will have to be looked at.”
SHIP ON THE ROAD
Fine Gael councillor, Pa O’Driscoll commented: “We are keeping the ship on the road. A number of things will have to be addressed in 2011 - the ongoing deficit in the leisure centre, parking in the town, and the amount of money being spent on street cleaning.”
Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan told The Avondhu that he felt that it was the best that could be done due to the 11% cuts by central government.
“We were left with no other alternative, our hands were tied. We would have liked to reduce the rates further as we are conscious of the pressures businesses are facing but we did the best possible job we could. I think it was a cop-out to suggest management come up with the shortfall and it saddens me that people expect we leave it up to them.”
Thursday 13th January 5:58pm