The Camlin Quarter is one of many projects in Longford Regeneration. Pictured are members of Longford County Council with members of Longford Regeneration team and Minister Damien English.
The decision back in September to increase the local property tax (LPT) by 7.5% per annum was a risk for Longford County Council — especially coming into an election year. But this was a risk that really paid off for Longford, as became evident at last week's council meeting.
The idea was first mooted by head of finance John McKeon, who said that an increase of €7 per annum would generate community- related grants of €333,000 and could generate at least €6m for Regeneration projects in the county up to 2022.
“What actually happened was it still costs €7. It still generates €333,000 in grants, but we’ve secured at this time €14.3m for Regeneration projects, so it’s really, really exceeding expectations here and it is a testament to yourselves that you had the bravery and the courage to make that decision coming into an election year in September,” said Mr McKeon.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. And I think Longford County Council has shown leadership in doing the right things for its citizens.
“I think we’re on a cusp of unprecedented infrastructural development from 2019 to 2021 and if we can keep the next council going like this council have been going, even after this ambitious programme, we can still see that the best is yet to come.”
Councillors in attendance were thrilled with the good news and were quick to compliment Mr McKeon for delivering such a strong capital budget.
“I think that we should look at this capital budget as an indicator of the great legacy that this particular council has left for the people of Longford over five very challenging years,” said Cllr Gerry Warnock.
“To think that we’re looking at a three-year capital budget of €100m... if someone had said that to me when this council began in 2014, I’d think there was magic in their head or something.
“Back in September, the LPT increase was a risk, considering it was in an election year; considering there was a potential backlash when we go and knock on doors.
“But on the other hand, I think it was a no-brainer when you consider the amount of money - €14m overall - that we would’ve left on the table if we didn’t make that decision back then.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s very, very encouraging and it’s certainly a great base for the next council, whoever they may be, to start off on. So well done to all involved.”
Cllr Seamus Butler agreed that increasing the property tax was a risk, but it was one worth taking and he said that no councillor in the chamber should be afraid to knock on doors ahead of the upcoming local election after delivering such a “momentous” and “historic” capital budget.
“Yes, we’ve been brave, and sometimes when you take risks, you make mistakes,” he said.
“But if you never take risks, you don’t achieve anything. And I think that this is an achievement for each and every one of you in this chamber who provided the leadership to our excellent executive and management to bring in the capital budget.
“So it’s a proud day for all of us here. And I think that’s some legacy, as Cllr Warnock said, to give to the people of Longford.”
Cllr Butler then proposed that the capital budget plan that was presented in the chamber be adopted. His proposal as met with unanimous agreement from his council colleagues.
Mr McKeon thanked the members for their continued support and praised the hard work of management and executive teams on this capital budget plan.
“The big news today is Longford is rising, and it's down to the incredible partnership between the members and the executive,” he concluded.