Fermoy Town Council fails at second attempt to pass Budget for 2014
After another evening of wrangling, Fermoy Town Council failed for the second time on Monday night to pass a Budget for 2014.
There was trouble from the outset when members learned Cork County Council's position hadn't changed; they were retaining the condition they'd attached to concessionary funding they were giving them. The council had reduced the amount of the county charge they have to pay for the year, to help them balance their budget. The condition was that they couldn't go on, after being bailed out in that way, to take money out of their budget for additional expenditure, such as providing free pay parking in town car parks.
Angry members accused the county council of dictating to them and holding a gun to their heads. Cllr Tadhg O'Donovan also took severe umbrage at the fact that the news was delivered to them, not by letter, the correct way he claimed it should have been done, but verbally by town manager Niall Healy, who reported that he'd met with senior staff in the finance section of the county council. Cllr O'Donovan wanted the meeting adjourned until they got written confirmation of what he called the county councils 'diktat'. He and councillors Michael Hanley, Noel McCarthy and John Murphy indicated they would not support the budget if free car parks weren't included.
Mayor Olive Corcoran also incurred the wrath of some members at the start of the meeting when she asked them not to repeat the points they'd made the week before and to pass the budget. She got a tongue lashing from councillors Hanley and Murphy. She appealed to them, saying her fear was that Fermoy would suffer if their budget wasn't passed.
After much heated debate, the town manager and town clerk Pauline Moriarty, agreed to look at the second of two options for free pay parking, which would see it operate for five months which would bring it up to the time the town council is abolished. They would also look at having the whole month of December free instead of the traditional two weeks. The meeting was adjourned for ten minutes for them to look at the figures. When it resumed, members were told the shortfall to be made up was €29,000. Members were agreeable to the five-month option.
Cllr Seamus Coleman then proceeded to go through their income and expenditure with the officials, asking questions about each item. When criticised by some other members for his close examination of the figures he said it was too little scrutiny of such figures that had the country the way it is.
"I'm here trying to find money for your pet project," he told them. Cllr Coleman had argued at the previous budget meeting that delivering free car parking wasn't the be-all and end-all and that they'd more pressing concerns such as their housing maintenance grant budget. His overall stance remained that the Government caused the problem by underfunding the County Council, leaving it to try to make up shortfalls.
Vice chairperson Cllr Dolan-Moore, was in the chair as the Mayor had stepped out for a break when it was pointed out by Cllr Hanley that they'd gone over time which, according to standing orders, would have required agreement beforehand to proceed. It was agreed to adjourn and reschedule.
Cllr McCarthy appealed to members to meet with officials and go through the figures before their next meeting if they have any queries and also if they could suggest ways in which to come up with the €29K, in order to speed up the next night's meeting.
Thursday 23rd January 7:40pm