Fears have been voiced by local public representatives that Tramore could be left without Christmas lighting next year unless the resort’s traders dig deep into their pockets.
At the Town Council’s annual budget meeting on Tuesday night there was a complaint that one businessman had been keeping the show afloat virtually on his own through recent festive seasons and simultaneously it was disclosed that new lights would be required twelve months hence – at a cost of at least €15,000.
The budget for next year includes a figure of €1,000 for Christmas lights, but Mayor Joe Conway said he had been informed that for safety reasons the existing lights would have to be replaced next year and his information was that the cost would be €15,000 minimum. “We’re looking at a very dark Christmas in 2008 if we cannot raise the necessary money”, he remarked.
However, he also disclosed that he had written to the local Chamber of Commerce seeking discussions on a variety of topics and the funding of festive lights would certainly be one of them. He was awaiting a response from the Chamber but didn’t anticipate any problem arranging such a meeting.
Cllr. Dan Cowman said he would be anxious to attend to make a few points to the business representatives. Regarding the lights, he said a trader had handed him €200 recently towards the cost after they had a discussion on the subject.
Rather unfairly, he said, one businessman had been shouldering the financial burden for the Christmas lights almost alone for several years and it was time others pulled their weight, especially now that the cost was set to soar next year. “Who could blame that man if he got fed up shelling out his money and it would be an awful shame if the town was left without lights”, he added. (Although Cllr. Cowman didn’t name the businessman in question, it is Mr. Eamon McCormack of McCormack Hardware).
The Councillor also mentioned that Minister Eamon O Cuiv had been dispersing grants for Christmas lighting in small towns around the country and suggested Tramore should apply.
Cllr. Pat O’Callaghan said it was important that the Chamber “did its bit” – after all it was its members who would benefit commercially.
Town Clerk Mr. John O’Sullivan pointed out that a substantial sum of money was due from the County Council in respect of parking revenue which was ring-fenced for the town and a portion of that could be set aside, if the members so wished, towards the cost of the lights.
Contained in the budget for 2008 is a rate increase of 4 p.c., bringing the figure to €3.402 in the €, which will yield €41,684. That amount will be demanded from the County Council and along with Tramore House rent of €28,880 and bank interest of €436, the total sum accruing will be €71,000.
Among expenditure items towards the same total are allocations of €21,000 for local tourism and development, €7,400 for salaries and wages, €6,000 towards the running of the Coast Guard Station and sums of €1,000 each for Comhairle na nOg and competitions for tidy estates and gardens. Also included is €2,000 for architectural conservation, the idea being that work would be carried out on certain projects identified by students from WIT.
The Mayor’s allowance next year rises from €1,700 to €2,000, with the Deputy Mayor’s increasing from €400 to €500 and the nine Council members will share expenses of €9,900, up from €9,000.