Longford could be primed for a major capital investment project in recognition of its steadily improving financial well being at local authority level.
Speculation a sizeable cash injection from Leinster House bosses could be on the way comes hot on the heels of Longford County Council’s recently adopted Budget for 2017.
The terms of that agreement were rubber-stamped by all 18 elected members at a meeting last week.
Councillors agreed to freeze commercial rates for another 12 months ahead of a long awaited revaluation process which is due to kick in from January 2018.
But it is the county’s more sustained financial position going into 2017 which has prompted increased spending at local level as well as talk of a possible monetary investment from central government.
Over the course of 2017, Longford County Council has ring-fenced just over €8m for various housing and building projects, representing a €1.22m increase on last year.
Likewise, an extra €1.35m has been set aside for development management across the likes of tourism, supporting local communities and ongoing regeneration plans.
Other areas also expected to experience spending hikes include road, transport and safety as well as recreation and amenity.
That greater flexibility in Longford County Council’s cash reserves came courtesy of an additional €1.2m which was taken in from grants and subsidies, over €600,000 in goods and services alongside rebates from both the Lansdowne Road Agreement and Irish Water.
Those measures were signed off on despite the anticipated loss in 2017 of over €60,000 to its Local Property Tax (LPT) returns after councillors sanctioned a three per cent reduction back in September.
Local Councillor Gerry Warnock said the upshot of last week’s announcement now opened up the prospect of a substantial government backed venture coming on stream.
“We also now have €98,000 from paid parking that has been transferred to a capital account that’s sterilised for use in a capital project of some sort,” he said.
The Independent representative was keen to qualify those remarks however, insisting that five figure sum would remain the sole preserve of Longford’s six municipal district members.
“It's important to note that this will be very much at the discretion of the elected members of Longford Municipal District,” he said.
Cllr Warnock revealed a further €60,000 held over from 2016 meant the overall figure left available to local politicans would be in the region of €160,000.
However, rather than spend that money across a range of different areas, Cllr Warnock said he would be pushing his colleagues to await the possible onset ofsupplementary government assistance.
“My preference would be to see if we can get our hands on some matched funding from the Department in order to get some sort of significant enterprise project up and running,” he said.
Should those overtures become reality, Cllr Warnock said it would lay further claim to the benefit of paid parking in Longford town.
“What this does is it gives us, the elected members, much greater autonomy to focus on bringing projects thatwill be of greater benefit to the people of Longford town,” he said.
“If we can get matched funding from the Government then it will hopefully show people the relevance and importance of having paid parkin