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Tax hikes and cuts on way -- and the council splashes out ¤132k on THIS?

This is the €132,000 sculpture that is likely to drive motorists around the bend.

Families are bracing themselves for a €10 cut in child benefit, a €50 charge for a medical card and other stealth taxes on Budget Day.

But cash-strapped South Dublin County Council splashed out a small fortune on this "iconic" sculpture for the N7 roadside.

Officials commissioned a Dutch artist to design the piece -- known as a 'Marker Tree'.

The stainless steel structure was installed this week along the side of the N7 at the Naas Road. However the €132,000 price tag makes you wonder whether the authorities truly believe that money grows on trees.

Local representatives are up in arms.

Fianna Fail councillor Trevor Gilligan told the Herald he was "fuming" over the cost. "This was not run by all the local councillors," he said. "At no stage was I informed. I am fuming that €132,000 has gone into a marker tree that could have gone into the community."

A council spokesperson admitted that the cost would "raise questions", adding: "It is a substantial amount but I believe when people get used to it they will warm to it."