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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council insists there is no 2020 cash crisis

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Galway City Tribune – There is no cash crisis at the heart of the city’s capital of culture project, the chief executive of Galway City Council has insisted.

Brendan McGrath confirmed there was a delay in the payment of €250,000 from the City Council to Galway 2020. But he stressed this was due to unforeseen circumstances and not a policy of withholding payment.

“There’s no fallout, there’s no disagreement, there’s no holding back of funding . . . There isn’t (a crisis) genuinely. I don’t know where that’s coming from,” said Mr McGrath.

The comments come as a Galway City councillor said he is “very worried” that a local government auditor has “raised concerns” about the apportioned costs of Galway 2020. Separately, a Galway senator has also highlighted fears about value for money and oversight of the project.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, Mr McGrath confirmed that €250,000 owed by the City Council to Galway 2020, which was due to be paid in December, will be in the company’s bank account this Friday morning.

“There’s no funding crisis, genuinely. What there was, was the Board (of Galway 2020) pointed out that unless they got the City Council money, they’d be running short of funds by the end of February, but that’s not the case now as the funding is going through,” he said.

Mr McGrath rejected as “completely untrue” a suggestion that the City Council was withholding funding until such time as Galway County Council paid its share of the costs of the bid for Galway 2020.

Councillor Pádraig Conneely (FG) said he is “very concerned” about statements by auditors, who have flagged issues with funding of Galway 2020. He cited a 2016 local government audit, which highlighted an “unfunded balance of €300,000”. “The Council needs to identify a funding source for this balance,” the auditor said.
To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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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