South Tipperary Co. Council management have come under pressure to spend the local authority’s cash reserves on repairing the county’s roads before the unification with North Tipperary Co. Council.
The pressure has come from the Council’s elected members, who fear much of the South Tipperary Council’s reserves will end up being spent on north Tipperary’s infrastructure once the two local authorities are merged in 2014.
Fine Gael Cllr Michael Murphy issued the call for the cash reservice to be invested in South Tipperary’s roads network at the Council’s September meeting where he highlighted a recent national newspaper report that show South Tipperary Co. Council had just over €3m in cash reserves in 2010 while North Tipperary Co. Council had just over €100,000. The source of the figures was a local government audit carried out in 2010.
“This money belongs to the people of South Tipperary and should be spent on the people of South Tipperary. I am asking you to release this money and fix our roads,” he demanded.
Several of his Fine Gael colleagues joined him in calling for the money to be invested on repairing roads in their areas.
They included Cllr Marie Murphy from Clogheen, who pointed out that road in her area had been washed away this summer and she had been told the Council hadn’t enough materials to fill potholes.
And Cllr Jimmy O’Brien from Drangan said if there was funds of €3m it should be urgently released and spent on the roads, filling potholes while Cllr Joe Brennan also gave his support for the proposal.
Cllr Michael Murphy asked Council management to comment on whether the figures listed in the Irish Independent report were accurate.
County Manager Billy McEvoy responded that he would like to see the article before commenting.
The Council’s Finance Officer Ken Conway told councillors that the local authority’s end of year balance was presented on an accrued basis, not a cash basis and this system has to take into account the money owed to the Council at the end of the year but not collected.
Mr Conway pointed out that the Council was required to keep its financial accounts balanced year on year.
Mr McEvoy, meanwhile, commented that he was a little bit saddened by the approach being taken by councillors. “If that is the approach in the future it’s going to be them against us and it won’t benefit us north and south. If we take the strengths of both sides and work with that, we have some hope in the future to create economies of scale and efficiencies,” he advised.