Donegal County Council is to reconvene shortly for their final hours to adopt a 2014 budget.
Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin councillors have said they cannot adopt the 138 million euro draft revenue budget because of concerns over what they say are insufficient funds for roads, housing and key council services, and questions over the transfer of water services to Irish Water and the coming water charges.
“Fianna Fáil cannot and will not be supporting this budget here today,” Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, Fianna Fáil party whip, said earlier on Tuesday afternoon. Cllr. Brogan said it was not his view that Donegal County Council should be dissolved.
“Exactly the opposite,” Cllr. Brogan said. “We believe the minister should intervene and look at the genuine concerns we have with regards to Irish Water.”
If the council is unable to adopt a budget by their statutory deadline of midnight Monday, they may face being removed from office by Minister Phil Hogan and being replaced by a commissioner appointed by the minister.
Earlier on Tuesday, Liam Ward, council director of housing and corporate services, explained to councillors: “I think it’s fair to say if the budget is not adopted we are then in hands of minister, who may decide then by ministerial order the next steps involved.”
It is understood that Fine Gael is now considering budget adjustments proposed by independent Cllr. John Campbell, who joined with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin councillors last week in voting against an amendment budget supported by Fine Gael and Labour councillors, and four independent councillors. That marked the third consecutive year that Sinn Féin councillors and Cllr. Campbell have voted against the council’s revenue budget, saying there was not enough money for housing and other key services.
Cllr. Campbell said earlier in the day that he had not received support for his proposals when he raised them in discussions last week with other political groupings. But Fine Gael seems to be showing interest in them this evening.