County House, Lifford, where the budget meeting continues
Representatives of the political groupings on Donegal County Council have said they cannot support the 5 per cent increase in commercial rates proposed in the council’s draft revenue budget for 2018.
Today’s council budget meeting is adjourned until 4pm to allow for meetings among and between groupings and the council executive.
The proposed 5 per cent increase in commercial rates would raise €1.7 million in the balanced budget.
The €148.8 million draft revenue budget was presented to councillors this morning, in a series of presentations by directors of service.
However, when councillors were given an opportunity to comment on the package, representatives of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Labour, and some independents, said they could not support the 5 per cent rates hike that the council executive proposed in the draft.
Councillors had already expressed their concerns at the proposed rates increase in a closed-door budget workshop held in recent weeks.
“There’s absolutely no way the Fianna Fáil party could support an increase of 5 per cent,” Fianna Fáil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan said.
Citing the implications of the Brexit referendum, Cllr. Brogan said, “We’re in very uncertain times.” He said, it was important “that we send out a message of confidence to business people that we understand the challenges they have as well”.
Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher also expressed concern over potential implications of Brexit and said the county also faced issues of unemployment, deficits in public transport and social housing, and homelessness. She said small businesses in the county “kept their doors open with pride and blood, sweat and tears”, and said, “I don’t think we’re in a position in this county as yet to increase the rates”.
Fine Gael Cllr Barry O’Neill said it was his party’s determination not to go to the level of a 5 per cent increase in rates. He said by agreement with all parties they could secure a better deal for ratepayers in Donegal.
The council has until December 1st to adopt a budget for 2018.