Last night the City Council Budget of almost 76 million Euro (75,935, 522 Euro) was passed by a majority of 12 Councillors including myself.
The three Sinn Féin Councillors for reasons best known to themselves abstained and the three Fianna Fáil Councillors voted against the budget.
Also just to note from the outside that the Budget made no provision for the current housing crisis-in this regard Management are still awaiting confirmation of what funding will be provided by the government for the construction of social housing.
Moreover the City Council continues under a legal obligation to pay an obscene 630,000 Euro per year in respect of the interest only element on loans drawn down by the Council for the purchase of land for social housing, land that now simply sits there without development while the housing crisis intensifies!
A government initiative to take over this burden from Local Authorities has been abandoned without explanation and yet the government had and continues to have little difficulty in writing off debts for Bankers and Developers amongst the chosen few!
On the positive side, below are just some of the significant and positive elements of the Galway City Council Budget-there are many more which I will return to again.
- The recruitment of an Irish Language Officer after a gap of years where shamefully in a Bi-Lingual City, the Council had no such officer.
- Continued significant financial assistance for the very worthy organizations, Gaillimh Le Gaeilge, The Civic Trust and Badóirí an Chladaigh and in addition the first step in the provision of financial support for the ‘Amach’ LGBT Resource Centre Project.
- Financial provision for a replacement statue of Padraic O’Conaire in Eyre Square more than 10 years after it was first removed from Eyre Square.
- Financial provision to enable the necessary and urgent Coastal Protection Scheme from Silverstrand to Salín to progress to tender stage.
- Confirmation that some of the money provided for the Floral City initiative will be available for residents’ organizations.
- Confirmation that 30,000 Euro has been provided to complete the final work re the contamination of soil at South Park and further confirmation from the City Manager that a Master Plan will be progressed in the first and second quarter of 2015.
- 500,000 Euro provided for the European Capital of Culture Bid with an emphasis on leaving a permanent legacy to Galway in the form of permanent infrastructure.
- An economic redevelopment strategy for Salthill-an initiative that is badly needed in my opinion.