Row brews over payment of NPPR monies to Longford Town Council

A financial row is brewing between Longford's Town and County Council following the recent adoption of budgets by the two local authorities. One councillor has suggested that the Minister should be called to intervene, if a satisfactory response is not achieved on behalf of the Town Councillors who raised the issue this week.

A financial row is brewing between Longford's Town and County Council following the recent adoption of budgets by the two local authorities. One councillor has suggested that the Minister should be called to intervene, if a satisfactory response is not achieved on behalf of the Town Councillors who raised the issue this week.

Two items of contention for Town Councillors are the NPPR (Non Principal Private Residence) charges, which is a source of income and the County Charge, which the Town Council pays to the County Council in return for services provided to the urban authority.

Speaking at the recent budget meeting, Cllr Alan Mitchell said, "The county (council) must figure that it is very generous in giving us another v20,000, but from my calculations it should be another v120,000 that we are getting."

He said the county council is obliged by law to pay the Town Council the correct amount and queried how the county charge - increased this year by ten percent to v1.2m - was calculated.

"What I want to see going forward is transparency. I don't think any of us in the town mind paying for services that have to be provided in the town. I have always had a problem since I became a councillor in 1994 in trying to understand how the county charge came.

"My view is that it's often a way to help balance the county council's budget because we've never really got a transparent breakdown on what exactly is involved," said Cllr Mitchell.

He suggested that the Town Mayor and County Mayor should arrange a meeting to seek a meeting with the County Manager, along with the Town Clerk and Town Manager to find out information on the county charge and NPPR charges.

"If agreement can't be resolved, I think we have to go the minister or we may have to go to the local government auditor. The ratepayers of Longford town are entitled to benefit from that," he said.

In response, Cllr Mae Sexton said, "It just makes one wonder when we have a Town and County Council that can't sit down and work out its differences without having to go to a minister.

"We're all supposed to be working together for the good of the town and county and it shouldn't be an us and them situation. They (council) should be open and transparent with us," she added.

"It does make you wonder if they see councillors as totally irrelevant," she suggested.