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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council votes not to increase Property Tax

Denise McNamara

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Councillors have agreed not to increase the Local Property Tax (LPT) this year ahead of the budget meetings in November – despite a projected €1.25 million shortfall for Galway Council Council.

Councillors can vote to vary the basic rate of the Local Property Tax up or down by 15 per cent and have to take the decision by the end of September so it can come into effect by November 1. The maximum value of an increase or decrease would be €2.2m.

The LPT collected for next year would be an estimated €14.7m, of which €11.7m would be retained by the Council with the remainder going into an equalisation fund benefiting other councils with smaller populations.

The estimated expenditure for 2020 will be €7.6m more than this year. That includes a €5m hike in the roads budget, €1.4m extra for staff costs and €300,000 more for homeless services. Other increased areas for expenditure are €200,000 for housing maintenance and €200,000 for local roads.

Chief Executive of Galway County Kevin Kelly warned that despite a projected increase in income of €6.4m – €5m of that from higher roads grants from the department – that still left a shortfall of €1.25m.

This would have to be met through increased LPT and/or commercial rates – or by reducing expenditure.

A 15 per cent hike in the LPT would mean an increased bill of €13.50 for 36 per cent of households, €34 jump for 32 per cent and €47 extra for 22 per cent of homes per year.

A five per cent adjustment would mean an additional cost of less than 30 cents per week for 90 per cent of households in County Galway while giving €725,000 to the Council – “very significant in terms of service delivery”.

“Galway County Council had a budget of €160m in 2008. The Council’s budget reduced to €105m in the period 2015-2017 before increasing to €112m in 2018 and €120m in 2019,” Mr Kelly stated in a submission to councillors.

“The members will be aware that we do not compare favourably with relevant comparable counties which are those with a large geographical area and a significant rural population.

“In comparison with such counties, Galway has the highest population, lowest staff level, lowest budget per capita and the lowest commercial rates income of these comparable counties.”

Martina Kinane (FF) said the answer to bridging the gap was not by increasing LPT and she proposed that the rate would remain the same next year, which was seconded by Cllr Joe Byrne (FG).

“Since 2015 we have 5,000 houses newly built in the last 6-7 years and they don’t pay property tax – that €225 per year would net Galway County Council €1.4m which is actually the difference to balance the budget,” stated Cllr Byrne.

Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) urged Fine Gael councillors to seek a meeting with the Finance Minister to lobby for more money to address the serious underfunding in this local authority.

Cllr Michael Connolly (FF) seconded this, pointing out that Galway County Council was getting €2.8-3m in the equalisation fund while Mayo was getting €13m, Tipperary €19, and Donegal €21m.”

The motion not to increase the LPT was agreed unanimously.

Connacht Tribune

Pubs to remain closed and restrictions on gatherings unchanged

Enda Cunningham

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Pubs and nightclubs will not be allowed to open next week, while restrictions will remain in place on indoor and outdoor gatherings, as the Government decided to postpone Phase 4 of the Roadmap to Recovery for a second time.

It will also become compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and shopping centres from next Monday.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin made the announcement this evening, adding that the current situation will be reviewed again in three week’s time.

Asked if pubs would reopen at all this year, the Taoiseach said that due to the way the virus spreads, the Government “cannot give any guarantee right now2.

“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly and inextricably to an increase in community transmission.

“I want [publicans] to know that I have enormous sympathy for their plight. The virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart of many communities.

“We have to heed our Chief Medical Officer and NPHET [the National Public Health Emergency Team] advice and we have to keep the pressure on this virus.

“I know this will come as a bitter disappointment to many people; the Cabinet has agreed to continue with the current public health measures that are in place. Pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed.

“The current restrictions on numbers attending indoor and outdoor gatherings will remain unchanged [50 people indoors and 200 outdoors].

“We will review the evidence again in three weeks’ time.

“This virus has not changed. It remains as virulent as ever and it is constantly on the search for new people to infect. It remains completely indiscriminate in its cruelty. But as dangerous as it is, we have shown we can beat it. Each one of us has the power to suppress it,” the Taoiseach said.

At a press conference tonight, Mr Martin also said that pubs which are currently trading (with food) will have to close at 11pm.

The Government has also announced that five locations – Malta, Cyprus, San Marino, Monaco and Gibraltar – have been removed from the so-called ‘Green List’.

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Connacht Tribune

Influx of visitors heightens Covid fears

Dara Bradley

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Saolta CEO Tony Canavan

Local health chiefs are planning for the worst case scenario of a second surge of Coronavirus brought on by domestic tourism – as ‘staycationers’ from parts of the country where the virus is more prevalent carry it into the west.

There has been just one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in Galway in the past week, and just a handful of new cases in the past several weeks.

But the authorities fear tourists from parts of the country more affected by the virus will result in an increase here during August and September.

There are also concerns that there are not enough beds in the public health system to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 alongside regular winter hospital admissions.

Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, which manages public hospitals in the West, at the HSE West Regional Health Forum this week, said health workers are anxious that the deadly virus will spread to the West, as the reopening of society continues.

“There are concerns among those working in the health system associated with Government plans to reopen society and the economy, even though we know that is absolutely necessary and important for the well-being of the population as a whole.

“But the concerns we have relate to the greater movement of people whether it’s going to and from work, or going about their business, whether it’s attending the shops or entertainment events and so on, and that greater movement of people creates an environment where the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased.

“We’re particularly concerned in the West and North West, that there would be a level of movement of people associated with tourism at this time of year,” said Mr Canavan.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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Connacht Tribune

Chanelle McCoy unveils her clinically proven cannabinoid cure

Stephen Corrigan

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Chanelle McCoy (left) and Caroline Glynn with their new Pureis product line in Galway this week. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The usage of CBD food supplements to treat a whole raft of illnesses and conditions in recent years has given rise to concern that many of the products currently on the market are being sold to consumers without any clinical trials to verify their safety.

It was the rise in demand for these products that first caught the attention of well-known Loughrea business woman Chanelle McCoy who this week, together with her business partner and fellow Galwegian Caroline Glynn, launched the first CBD product on the Irish market that has been clinically proven to be safe – Pureis.

Chanelle, whose family business Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea has a proven track record in the medical world, stepped back from that venture five years ago to focus on her own Chanelle McCoy Health.

“My family business in Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea and so I’ve worked there for about 18 years. When I joined the business, it was a veterinary business and my father and I co-founded the medical side of the business. Then I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead that medical business over the last 18 years with a great team and with Caroline working with me,” says Chanelle of the beginning of her working relationship with Caroline.

“We bought the medical business into 96 countries around the world and we got over 2,500 product licences granted across those 96 countries. We would be looking at products in terms of what to put into the R&D pipeline and I started looking at CBD back in 2015, probably inspired a bit by Vera Twomey and the inability for moms like her to access good quality CBD products for kids like Ava,” she says, explaining that Cork woman Vera Twomey’s plight to secure cannabidiol treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy was a real eye-opener.

Read the full feature in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.

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