Fine Gael councillor Dolores Minogue has welcomed Louth County Council’s passing of the 2018 budget at last Thursday’s special meeting in Dundalk – and she says has “full faith” in the proposed new councillor sub-committee to be set up to liase with the council’s executive.
Speaking to ThisIsArdee.ie, Minogue also was critical of Independent councillor Jim Tenanty’s decision to originally oppose the budget on the grounds of commercial rates in Ardee rising from €57 to €58. Tenanty had argued that rates in Dundalk and Drogheda were not rising and therefore the move was unfair on rates payers in the rest of the county.
“I don’t like to see rates going up, but it’s out of our hands,” she said. “It’s a legal obligation that the Chief Executive (Joan Martin) has.”
As outlined in the budget first voted down and then eventually passed by councillors last week, this year sees Louth County Council continue the process of realigning the rates over the county to bring all rate payers to the same Base Rate of €60, a move brought in as part of the 2015 budget.
The local authority said that due to ‘financial constraints’ on the budget for 2018, they decided not to amend the €63.50 commercial rate in Drogheda and Dundalk but increase the county-wide rate by €1.
“I, personally, couldn’t see the rates increased. It’s not fair, people can’t afford to pay. I voted against the Budget on that basis,” he said after the Budget was first voted down, by 21 votes to seven. Chief Executive Martin had told Tenanty that if he wanted to spare a rates rise in Ardee, he would have to find savings elsewhere in the budget.
“She asked me to find it but I wasn’t going to cut community funds such as Tidy Towns, the councillor told us on Friday.
However, Minogue says that the local authority have already set our their vision for commercial rates. “Looking to stop the rate hitting €60 is just stalling the inevitable,” she said. “The rate has to meet €60 throughout the county and the quicker that is done, the quicker we as a council can decide to raise or drop the rate for the whole county. The Chief Executive has a legal obligation.”
Minogue welcomed the decision from Louth CoCo to agree to provide extra money to go towards homelessness and social care charities, funds which will be distributed to the three Municipal Districts.
“Each Municipal will get a cut of this money. They’ve taken €15,000 out of the economic budget and €20,000 out of twinning and each will get towards homeless aid, women’s aid and social care – which in Ardee could be the Hospice,” she said. “I agree with that because it’s hitting the most in need people in the community.”
“I’m also delighted that the CE will be speaking with us,” she added in relation to the news that party whips will form a sub-committee to held improve communications with the council executive.
“There will be a sub committee set up, and I have full faith that this committee will work and we will work better as a council. We can work together collectively and still bring our own ideas to the table. We’ll still be very much a part of it and it’s right that there’s a whip from each group instead of 29 councillors all trying to get their voice heard.
“We all have a common goal, to get the best for Louth we can. Instead of working against eachother, we need to work more inclusive. That would be the aim.”