Minister Hogan 'not welcome in Cork', says Cllr
Cork City Council will not recoup a cut of almost half a million euro after poor household charge returns, while one councillor has insisted that the Minister for Environment is not welcome in Cork.
The Department of the Environment had announced earlier in the year that €1.7m would be cut from Cork City Council's share of the local government fund, prompting a range of cost-cutting and savings measures implemented by the city manager, Tim Lucey, at the last meeting of council. Those measures amounted to €1.2 million across departments including housing maintenance, roads and the arts.
However it was understood that the money would be recoverable if household charge payments in the city, currently estimated at between 61 and 63 per cent, increased. According to a letter from the city manager to councillors, the quarter three payment of €466,103 will not be received by the council, but the council “can now recover a significant portion of the funding adjustment by year end, if the household charge in Cork city increases.”
Mr Lucey urged householders who had not paid the charge, to come forward and increase the payment rate, which could reverse cuts to community and arts grants before the end of the year.
“We will not know until mid-November the actual level of pay and how much we can recover,” said Mr Lucey.
“Any householder in this cohort (the campaign against the household charge) to pay voluntary should be safe in the knowledge that the payment will go to communities.”
Fianna Fail’s Tim Brosnan angrily described the letter on behalf of the Minister as a “case of central government robbing us. Not us as a council but us as a community in Cork.”
“This is a budget cut by the back door. I’m appalled by this decision and we should make it know that the Minister is not welcome in Cork. He is not welcome in my ward.”
There was heated reactions to the comments by Mr Brosnan on not welcoming the Minister with several Fine Gael councillors voicing their opposition to such comments. Worker’s Party Cllr Ted Tynan described the actions of the manager as a “manner bordering on fascism.”
“This is a form of fascism, it’s the jack boot and I imagine a waste of time to ask the city manager to withdraw the letter. The Department is putting him in the position of attacking the city.”
Inaction and ineptitude
Fine Gael’s Cllr Joe O’Callaghan criticised the opposition, notably Fianna Fáil, for their comments and reactions, adding that the country is where it is “due to years of inaction and ineptitude.”
“If you were to listen to those parties extol and castigate you would they pillaged and raped the country financially. But fair dues to them for having the neck of a brass monkey.”
“We know it is the truth. We know what brought the country to its knees.”
According to the letter sent on behalf of the minister, local authorities with a compliance rate of 65 per cent or more will have no further reductions on the initial cut made already. Those councils with between 60 and 65 per cent returns will be subject to a half per cent deduction on the initial 2012 allocation while those with less than 60 per cent will take a one per cent reduction.
Two other motions calling for mortgage holders to be exempt from the new house charge was passed by one vote while a motion to reverse the cuts in the local government fund was tied at 13 votes apiece, with Cllr Jim Corr in the chair casting against the motion.