Council could face grant cut of €4m

Carolyn Farrar

Reporter:

Carolyn Farrar

Donegal County Council could face a cut of more than €4 million in state funding for the rest of 2012, as part of a proposed adjustment by the office of Local Government Finance.

Donegal County Council could face a cut of more than €4 million in state funding for the rest of 2012, as part of a proposed adjustment by the office of Local Government Finance.

The cut, which includes a loss of €1 million from the council’s third-quarter grant payment, is based in part on the level of household charge compliance the council has achieved, according to the department circular.

Councillors said they do not know where the local authority will find an additional €4 million in savings without having a drastic affect on council services.

“I think the practicality of cutting 4 million out of our budget in the final months of the year without devastating services is impossible,” said independent Cllr. John Campbell, who has been a leading figure in Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay Donegal, the campaign against the government’s household, septic tank and water charges.

Fine Gael Cllr. Barry O’Neill, party whip, said people should pay the charge if they can afford it, “otherwise we’re going to have a serious situation on our hands come the first week in January, or even before the end of the year”.

“It’s not pretty, but the situation the country finds itself in was created by the last government,” Cllr. O’Neill said.

“Sinn Féin will strongly oppose any measures to equate the inability of people to pay this household charge with a reduction in the public services that people in Donegal are entitled to,” said Sinn Féin Cllr. Mick Quinn, party whip.

“I think it’s a disgrace, to be honest -- after adopting a budget last December, to expect the council to save €4 million now, midway through the year,” said Fianna Fáil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, party whip. He is introducing a motion on Monday to ask what the implications of the cut would be for the council and staff.

“There’s absolutely no doubt the government is out of touch with reality,” Cllr. Brogan said, adding that the council executive has made huge efforts in recent years to make savings.

Read more in today’s Donegal Democrat.