Signs of hope? Or CCC creaking to a halt?
THERE was a very mixed reaction to Cork County Council's 2013 budget on Monday with one Fine Gael member describing it as "a budget of hope" while a Fianna Fail councillor said that CCC was "creaking to a halt."
In all there were 27 contributions from the floor after the lengthy presentation and once councillors had some time to do some number crunching of their own.
Cllr Tom Sheahan (FG) said: "It's a budget of hope. There hasn't been a rates increase in six years and that is very good. Planning applications have also remained steady for the past two years. We are in an exciting time for local government."
Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) said: "It is a very well balanced budget in very difficult times. We should all remember that not less than two years ago, we were left facing a situation of no money to pay the civil service, gardai and health and that is the reality of where we are coming from and we must recognise that we are fighting our way out of that situation and back to some form of reality."
However, Cllr Ronan Sheehan (Lab) said that he did not agree with the recent passing of the equalisation of the rents across the three regions, which has already been agreed on. He felt it was penalising the "poorest of the poor."
Cllr Dan Joe Fitzgerald (FF) said he had concerns about the property tax. "A lot of things seem to be going to Dublin - grants going to Dublin, medical cards going to Dublin, will housing go to Dublin too and will the local personnel have anything to actually do with the allocations," he queried.
He said that businesses needed to be looked after in the current tough economic climate.
Cllr Frank O'Flynn (FF) said that Fermoy and Mitchelstown has lost out "once again" in not getting an amenity site. "Limerick City Council reduced its rates by 5%, so why can't we do the same," added Cllr O'Flynn.
Cllr Kevin O'Keeffe (FF) said that while it was all well and good to equalise the rent, it was the people in rural areas who are being hit the hardest.
Cllr Aindrias Moynihan (FF) said that people are being "driven off their heads" by having to pay the household tax.
Cllr Noel McCarthy (Lab) said that while rates have not been increased in six years, but nevertheless, there are many businesses who are suffering and would welcome a reduction.
Cllr Veronica Neville (FG) said that the devil is in the detail, but noted that Bottlehill is still costing €2.1 million to run. "It's the white elephant in the room and it's talking a lot of our cash ... and that needs to be said here today."