The majority of Cork county councillors see the proposed extension of the city boundary as being nothing more than a “money grab” which could put rural areas at a serious disadvantage in the future.
The county council stands to lose more than €40m per year from its annual rates income of €117m if the boundary extension proposed by the McKinnon report goes ahead.
That proposes the handing over to the city council of Ballincollig, Cork Airport, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island and Carrigtwohill areas by 2019.
Fine Gael Cllr Kevin Murphy said he is worried it will have a detrimental effect on rural communities.
He pointed out that apart from the loss of rates, the city would gain significantly into the future from large tracts of land in areas which the council had already zoned for housing and industry.
Cllr Murphy said there were also too many questions left unanswered by the report and councillors needed to meet as quickly as possible with its authors to get them answered.
Fianna Fail Cllr Frank O’Flynn maintained that, if implemented, “it will devastate our county’s small towns and villages.”
He said that not only would the council be losing massive income from rates, it would also forfeit Local Property Tax (LPT) from thousands of households which would then come under the control of the city council.
“This is a money grab,” he said, pointing out that the city council would benefit even more into the future because it will have annexed the former Amgen site and other as yet unused industrial sites in Carrigtwohill, along with land zoned for housing along the railway corridor there.
In addition, Cllr O’Flynn pointed out that the city council will also take control of a 5,500 planned town for Monard, near Blarney.
Youghal-based Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said her area “would now be better off joining Waterford,” because she feared the cuts in revenue would lead to services being seriously curtailed.
Cllr Anthony Barry, who lives in Carrigtwohill, said no locals he’d been in contact with welcomed the city council taking over that area.
“It’s an exercise in (them) getting rates. The extension is too big. You’d have to be worried about cuts in services in the future in the county,” he said.
Sinn Féin is in favour of the extension. Its council leader, Cllr Des O’Grady, said a larger city would be an economic driver for the region, but added people in some of the areas mentioned should be canvassed for their opinions.
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