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‘Temporary’ rate rise to remain until 2020

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Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council

The temporary commercial rates increase that came into effect this year, has been ‘regularised’ for 2017 and will remain in place for three further years after that.

Businesses, in conjunction with Galway City Council management, proposed a 3% hike in commercial rates effective in 2016 – it was to provide extra cash to bid for European Capital of Culture.

The rate was to reduce to 2015 levels if the bid was not successful but it will now remain in place until at least 2020, the year of the prestigious designation.

City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the extra rates yields roughly €750,000 per annum. It will be ring-fenced, he said, to deliver on Galway 2020’s programme of events.

Mr McGrath praised businesses for almost universally accepting the hike payable in 2016. He said it influenced the Capital of Culture judges.

“I’ve had one letter from one rate-payer (complaining) and that was it. That was proposed a year ago, and came in for the current year and the Chamber of Commerce supported it.

“The jury acknowledged big time in the written report and also at the presentational, what the business community had done, and that they had agreed to and proposed a rate increase themselves. It genuinely was a very significant factor in swinging the thing for Galway,” he said.

As well as keeping commercial rates static, Mr McGrath confirmed next Monday’s Council budget 2017 proposed no increase in Local Property Tax. The budget also proposes a freeze on charges for services provided directly by the Council, such as planning applications, cost of burial plots, and admission charges to the likes of Leisureland.

Mr McGrath said in the current climate, the Council would like to introduce an expansionary budget but it doesn’t have the cash.

“We spend €75 million next year running Galway. Back in 2009, that was about €92 million. Of that €75 million, about 85% of it is collected locally, through rates, property tax and the charges for services we provide.

“We’re heavily dependent on those local sources of income, much more so than other local authorities. Because we’re not increasing rates, property tax or charges it means that the income side of the budget is largely fixed.

“The only increase in income we had in the last three years was the 3% on the rates for capital of culture. If income is fixed, it means the amount of money you have to spend is equally fixed,” he said.

Mr McGrath said the Council’s collection of rates owed has increased in the past three years from about 66% to an anticipated 75% this year, which was reflective of improvement in the wider economy.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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 Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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