The final ever Clonmel Borough Council budget was adopted last week, before its abolition after the 2014 local elections.
Despite requests from councillors for the historic budget to be adopted unanimously this year, the Workers and Unemployed Action Group (WUAG) members, following Mayor Pat English’s lead, refused to accept the budget.
Citing cuts to local government funding, cuts to services, local property tax, and funding of junkets as some of the reasons to oppose the budget, the five WUAG councillors were however outnumbered when it went to a vote, and defeated seven to five .
A total budget of €15,067,357 was proposed and seconded by Cllrs Siobhan Ambrose (FF) and Cllr Darren Ryan (Ind), and was prepared against a backdrop of fundamental reform in the local authority sector, according to town manager Sinead Carr.
In spite of the challenges, the budget allowed for a freeze in commercial rates for the fifth consecutive year, no increase in parking and swimming pool charges, or rents.
Ms Carr said there would be continued financial support for tourism and retail promotion in the town and they hope to maintain the Estate Enhancement Scheme, and attract more entries in the coming years. The Council’s continued support for the RAPID scheme was also commended. The redevelopment of Mulcahy Park and the development of a new playground on the northside of the town, are projects that the council will be proceeding with, said Ms Carr.
Cllrs welcomed news that the sale of Suir Island is nearing completion, and that a feasibility report will be presented to them in 2014 on the future of the West Gate.
But there was concern over the privatisation of water services when Irish Water assumes responsibility of that role in 2014, and WUAG members criticised the use of Local Property Tax money in the establishment of the company. Concerns were raised about the hard water problem in Clonmel and whether Irish Water will deal with the issue.