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CITY TRIBUNE

2020 chief to address concerns before Galway City Council

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Galway 2020 CEO Hannah Kiely has been invited to give Galway City Council an update on the status of the project, after serious concerns were raised in recent weeks.

She will appear before a specially-convened meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss what one former mayor has described as a “confidence crisis” at the heart of 2020 following the resignation of Artistic Director Chris Baldwin after 10 months in the job, and the failure to recruit a Business Engagement Director, a role understood to involve raising €7 million in private sector funding.

Ms Kiely, who is out of the country on business this week, had already accepted an invitation from Councillor Pádraig Conneely, Chair of the Strategic Policy Committee on Recreation, Amenity and Culture to attend an SPC meeting next Tuesday evening.

But last week, councillors voted to hold a special meeting of the City Council – replacing the SPC meeting – on the basis that democracy would be best served with a full meeting of members.

Cllr Conneely warned his fellow councillors against the vote saying they were interfering with the statutory rights of the SPC. He said he had worked hard pinning Ms Kiely down to a date which suited her to attend the meeting.

Cllr Donal Lyons, who proposed Ms Kiely would be invited to give the Council an update, reminded the meeting that when they had financially supported the bid, a commitment had been given that the local authority would get regular updates.

As that hadn’t happened, and Galway 2020 had recently lost their Artistic Director, he said the Council was due an update.

Cllr Conneely agreed, adding that he would extend an invite to all city councillors and senior executives to the SPC, which also has non-elected members representing various sections of the community.

Outgoing Mayor of Galway, Cllr Pearce Flannery stressed it should be a full council meeting, not just an SPC.

Cllr Niall McNelis said Galway 2020 was funded by public money and that the issue justified holding a special meeting of the council to hear an update from its CEO.

Cllr Mark Lohan said that following Tuesday’s meeting, Galway 2020 should give quarterly updates to the Council to keep councillors in the loop.

Galway 2020 had faded in the minds of the public, said Cllr Mike Cubbard. Cllr Mike Crowe also wanted to hear a general overview of how preparations for the event, which will see Galway as European City of Culture that year, were progressing.

Councillors voted 9 to 7 (two were absent) to replace tomorrow’s (Tuesday) SPC meeting with a full special meeting of the City Council.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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