More than €10m in state backed funding will be pumped into a stream of capital and voluntary sponsored schemes across Longford next year, making it the biggest single amount ever assigned to the county for urban and rural regeneration projects.
Details of the vast sums set to be apportioned to various groups and organisations next year were relayed to elected members at last week’s meeting of Granard Municipal District.
Head of Finance John McKeon said approximately €10.1m had been earmarked for expenditure next year with almost €2.5m being set aside through matched funding from the local authority.
This, he confirmed, was by far the largest investment ever witnessed in Longford and was one which had came largely as a consequence of a decision taken by councillors in September to increase anticipated property tax returns next year.
“This year, because of the variation in the Local Property Tax upwards by 15 per cent we have extra money in every municipal district,” he said.
The proposed increase in local authority spending will also see funding allocated to tourism promotion, town twinning, burial ground grants and other undertakings across north Longford increase from €93,000 to €111,000 next year.
They were figures which garnered a resounding seal of approval from those watching on from the floor of Granard Community Library.
Fine Gael Cllr Paraic Brady described the estimated €10.1m spend as “serious, serious buck” at a time when the county was already on the brink of welcoming UK leisure resort giant Center Parcs to its confines.
His party colleague and general election candidate, Cllr Micheal Carrigy was equally bowled over by the rise in funding which was ring-fenced for next year.
“That increase will fund multi million euro development projects within this region,” he said.
“The amount of voluntary organisations that benefit from grants, from Tidy Towns to graveyard committees and senior citizens, you are talking about 50 to 60 groups throughout the region that is benefiting and I know it is greatly appreciated from those organisations each year.
“We are the only local authority in Ireland to put up the Property Tax by 15 per cent but it’s for the benefit for the people of Longford and they will see those benefits in 2019 and years ahead.”
Fianna Fáil’s Luie McEntire joined in with the complimentary remarks which were aimed at the top table as he praised the way council chiefs had characterised property tax increases to individual homeowners.
“Nine euro per household per year was the way it was portrayed,” he remarked.
“That type of money (€10.1m) is an extraordinary amount of money.
“I don’t believe that ever during my time on the Council were we ever as financially sound.
“Those small grants mightn’t seem too much but if those groups and organisations have to fundraise or stand at church gate collections it takes a bit of time to collect it all the same.”
Cathaoirleach Cllr PJ Reilly said he had been a long time advocate of raising the ceiling of LPT charges locally given the relatively small financial hardship to homeowners locally.
“I used to say for an extra five per cent, it was the cost of an ice cream per house,” he said.
“ For a little pain of the increase in the property tax people will see the rewards within their communities, parishes and towns.”