Planned council cuts slammed

A councillor who stood for Labour in the last election claimed at last week’s meeting of Longford County Council that the council had been forced into making cuts because the Government didn’t sell the household charge to the people.

A councillor who stood for Labour in the last election claimed at last week’s meeting of Longford County Council that the council had been forced into making cuts because the Government didn’t sell the household charge to the people.

Cllr Mae Sexton described a series of planned reductions as a “mean way” of making councils enforce decisions made at central government level.

“It’s a coward’s way out to try and make local authorities do all the work,” she said. “I think some of these beg the question as to why they (cuts) weren’t made in the past. If the big cuts have to be made then the people out there have got to know this. It’s using the councils to penalise the people because they (government) didn’t manage to sell this charge.”

She was speaking after councillors heard proposals for cuts in council spending totalling over €300,000.

Head of Finance Barry Lynch told the meeting that the reductions were necessary because of the Government’s decision to shave €330,000 from its Local Authority Grant allocation for the three month July to September period.

This, he said, was largely owing to the council’s ongoing battle in raising the county’s household charge collection rate which presently stands at 59 per cent.

Amomg the reductions earmarked for the chop include €91,500 across the finance, human resources and IT sectors.

A futher €34,000 may be trimmed from the council’s miscellaneous services division, a downsizing that includes cutbacks of €27,000 in coroners fees.

Other areas facing proposed cuts inlcude agriculture (€15,000 reduction), development promotion (€21,400) and environment (€80,000), the latter of which is expected to see €10,000 taken out of the council’s burial ground expenditure.

Equally, recreation and amenity sectors are included as part of the proposed cutbacks. A total of €65,000 is to be taken out of both areas as council chiefs attempt to balance its books. Almost €40,000 is expected to be drawn from contributions made to community and local committess with a further €20,000 coming by way of cuts to the council’s amenity works and library services budget.

Mr Lynch, in making the announcement at last week’s county council meeting, said the changes had been made with a view to avoiding more dramatic decisions affecting its frontline services.

See page 7.