Tuesday 16 October 2018

Taoiseach says council vote being examined

Louth County Councillors have been advised that a special meeting has been convened this Thursday to discuss the draft budget for 2018.

A letter advising councillors of the meeting informed them that the decision they had taken at last week's meeting to vote down the budget was 'ultra vires' or beyond their powers.

Members were told that the council is 'obliged under the Local Government Act 2001' to meet their statutory obligation to adopt the draft budget with or without amendment at a budget meeting.'

'This requirement has not been met in this case.'

They were further advised that the deadline for resolution is Sunday, December 3rd.

Meanwhile budget debacle was raised in the Dail, as it emerged that councillors may be legally required to adopt a budget.

Louth TD Imelda Munster raised the issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after the council had voted against the budget.

'Louth County Council's draft budget for 2018 was comprehensively defeated, with 75% of the elected members voting against it. This is a wake-up call that Louth County Council is dysfunctional.'

She added: 'It is not able to provide a service to the community or local economy. There are poor public services and amenities and services are being removed.'

Deputy Munster said: 'Above all, it is a lack of accountability and transparency which has led to this situation. For example, there is no proper assets register in Louth County Council.

'I know that the issue is currently on the Minister's desk. However, will the Taoiseach encourage the Minister to send in a strong team not just to listen to the concerns that were raised but also to examine the dysfunction in County Louth's local authorities?'

The Taoiseach responded: 'I understand that the Minister of State, Deputy John Paul Phelan, is examining the issue at the moment to see what are his options from a legal point of view, including a new election, the appointment of a commissioner or the possibility of the council attempting to put together a budget even now at this late stage.'

'He is examining the matter with the Attorney General and I am afraid I cannot give a further update at this stage.'

The Argus