Council faces closure over rejection of budget cuts

Galway County Council Chamber.

Galway County Councillors could vote themselves out of existence if they do not have a change of heart and pass the local authority’s annual budget by the end of this month.

The 39 members have been warned by Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy that failure to pass their spending plan would force his hand to remove their statutory powers.

Last week saw all five area councils – Connemara, Loughrea, Tuam, Ballinasloe and Athenry-Oranmore – vote to reject their individual budgets, presented to them by senior Council officials.

The Municipal District members said that they were not willing to take “a haircut” to the tune of €1.45 million, which would impact on roads maintenance and the provision of community grants.

And if councillors adopt a similar stance when it comes to the overall budget for the Council later on this month, then the authority could face abolition by the Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy.

He was asked by Galway Independent TD Noel Grealish the full implications of the 39 councillors voting down the budget

The Minister replied: “The failure to adopt a budget and determine an annual rate on valuation is a clear contravention of a Council’s statutory functions.

“In such a case where the budget meeting has closed and the members of the local authority have not adopted a budget, the Minister, by order can remove from office the members of a local authority if and whenever a local authority refuses or wilfully neglects to comply with any other express requirement which is imposed on it by or under any enactment including this Act (Local Government Act 2001)”.

Several members of Galway County Council – including those from ‘pact partners’ Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – have confirmed that they are not willing to suffer any more cuts.

If they are still of that opinion come the end of the month and there is nothing in place to make up the €1.45 million shortfall, then there is every possibility that no budget will be passed and the Council could face abolition.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.