Eoghan Dalton Reports
• Council CEO demands rates increase
• Politicians’ expenses could be in firing line
There’s no end in sight to the standoff between Waterford businesses and Council boss Michael Walsh.The chief executive set out his stall last Friday evening, claiming the business community must be “reasonable” and accept a rates increase of five per cent.
“I believe we have a choice,” he told the annual budget gathering in City Hall, “as to whether we want to be a Council that is going to deliver the services, and the promotion and the opportunity that this city needs, which I believe is to be at tipping point.”
He added: “Or do we want to exist on the basis that we’re going to cut to the bone and end up delivering very poor services.”
The controversy surrounding the Council’s deficit arose from a revaluation of assets and it means a hole of around €1.3 million needs to be plugged.
Councillors from Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party as well as Independents have agreed to pursue the Government for further funding ahead of passing 2020’s budget.
They disagreed with the rates increase and have pushed a final decision out to Thursday, December 12.
Sinn Féin have taken the most strident public position and are refusing to introduce a rates increase, describing it as doing the Government’s “dirty work”.
However, one of the party’s Councillors has told the Munster Express that he believes the ruling pact must pass a budget – even if the Government refuse to deliver more funding.
“I would be mindful to pass a budget which will protect the people we’re elected to represent and which will minimise cuts to vital services,” Cllr Declan Clune said yesterday (Monday).
“Otherwise we would be leaving it to other groups like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to devise a budget which won’t protect the most vulnerable people in our community.”“There is room to manoeuvre,” he added, saying that Councillors’ expenses should be on the chopping block.