A CALL for each sitting councillor to be allocated €30,000 to spend as they see fit, received a mixed response at a recent meeting of the local authority.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), who raised the motion which was described as both ‘a great idea’ and also ‘daft’ and ‘laughable.’
Cllr Collins said: ‘Hardly a day passes when some one of the public contacts us on issues whether it’s road repairs, maintenance, playgrounds or coastal issues and we are always told funding is the problem. I know it’s €1.65m out of the budget but I believe this would be the best money spent in the long run. We were elected here to represent the people and their communities. We are the people on the ground so I honestly think we should be given this allocation, as most of us here have that common sense.’
Cllr Collins pointed out that this money is allocated in different Councils throughout the country and is called ‘Councillors’ Allocations’ and used on roads maintenance, operation projects and various other issues.
‘Since our Local Property Tax hike, I honestly think it should come from this increase as it has left a sour taste in people’s mouths out there. At the end of each year an audit should be done and made public, showing where each councillor spent their allocation. This would show people true transparency and let them see we are doing our best for each and every one in the area.’
Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) supported the motion and said it was a great idea. However, Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said it was a ‘daft idea’ and called for the motion to be withdrawn and said that Cllr Collins had himself voted against the recent LPT increase and it would only lead to ‘a jealous streak’ amongst councillors.
‘We can ill-afford to give each sitting councillor €30,000 to spend at will in his or her own area,’ said Cllr Murphy. Midleton-based Cllr Susan McCarthy (FG) said she found it ‘absolutely outrageous and ludicrous’ that he was seeking this allocation after voting against the property tax increase.
‘I find it laughable,’ said Cllr McCarthy.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said that other local authorities like Kerry County Council operate something similar, but he said he found it hard to see how it would work.
‘I’d prefer if that money was floating about that it be directed through the municipal districts and allocated through community and amenity grants,’ he said.
‘I think we would absolutely be plagued by different groups and organisations if they knew we were allocating a certain amount of money,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said they would have some ‘ball’ around Bantry and Skibbereen if they were allocated the funding of €30,000 annually.
‘However, if the public knew about it, they would be knocking on our door all the time asking us for the funding for particular projects,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Danny Collins refuted that his motion was ‘laughable’ and said that such a scheme operates at both Cork City Council and Kerry County Councils, where councillors get €29,000 allocation per year.
‘It’s an idea that I have seen work in other counties and I have spoken to these councillors and they say it works for them,’ said Cllr Collins.