Members in the dark on how much in council coffers - but they want it all spent in South Tipp

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

Pressure is mounting on South Tipperary County Council to spend whatever monies it may have in reserve prior to the merger with North Tipperary County Council.

Fears that the money would be swallowed up in the merger were expressed by members at a meeting on Monday. They called for the money to be spent on roads and provision of other services in South Tipperary.

Attempts by Carrick on Suir councillor Bobby Fitzgerald to establish the amount of money South Tipperary County Council might have in reserve failed at a meeting on Monday.

He pressed repeatedly for officials to give the meeting the rolling bank current account balances without success.

Cllr. Fitzgerald tabled a motion with Cllr. Sean Lonergan requesting specific financial details on the council’s finances.

The Carrick councillor said he was pleased to be told that the finances were in a healthy position but that the reply failed to give the information he requested regarding a rolling back current account balance.

Cllr. Fitzgerald said whatever money the council had should be spent, before the merger, on services that were badly needed in South Tipperary.

He pressed officials to give him the rolling bank current account balance on the 30th September.

He was informed by officials that the balance fluctuated from month to month and that the council operated in line with the directive issued in February 2009 regarding the control and monitoring guidelines on finances.

County Manager Billy McEvoy told the meeting that the council had been managed very well over the years. The Council had a budget and it had to work within that budget. The only items it could allocate money for would be in an emergency situation.

Cllr. Michael Murphy said North Tipperary County Council was not in as healthy a financial position as South Tipperary and monies held by South Tipperary County Council should be spent in advance of the merger.

Cllr. Fitzgerald said it was very sad that members could not be told how much was in the current account. He insisted that the information requested should be made available. Members should know in the interests of transparency.

Cllr. Pat English said if there was a ‘crock of gold’ the members should be told and it should be ringfenced prior to the merger and should be spent on South Tipperary roads prior to the merger deadline.

Cllr. Sylvia Sheehan Cooney said a figure of €3million was being bandied about .

“”Do we have it or not” asked Cllr. Sheehan Cooney.

“People will ask are we hiding money. If we have it we should spend it and don’t let it go. I don’t like being kept in the dark on this,” said Cllr. Sheehan Cooney.

She asked if the manager and officials could give a private briefing to members .

Cllr. Joe Donovan said if there was money floating about it should not be left there until 2014.

“This money should be spent in South Tipperary ,” demanded Cllr.Donovan.

Cllr. Billy Shoer said members were concerned that a reserve of money would be handed over to North Tipperary County Council whose roads were not in as good a condition as those in South Tipperary.

Cllr. Liam Ahearn said the council went to government last week looking for additional money to repair the roads that were damaged in the severe weather. What would be the point of telling people what money you had if you were looking for money. It would only weaken your position insisted Cllr.Ahearn.

Cllr. Fitzgerald said the figure should be made available privately to members. He told officials that he would not be voting in favour of the budget later this year if he was not given the figure.

Cllr. Fitzgerald proposed that the members accept what was in the report presented to the members. His proposal was seconded by Cllr. Joe Brennan.

As a compromise Cllr. Michael Murphy proposed that the officials should meet with the elected members on the Corporate Policy committee.

Cllr. Fitzgerald agreed to the proposal that a comprehensive financial report be given to the corporate Policy committee of the county council..

The Manager said th emeeting with the Corporate Policy committee would take place before the annual budget.