Fund levels unknown days before budget due

Environment Minister Phil Hogan is to be told “it’s simply not good enough” that, just days before Cork County Council’s annual budget meeting, its manager still does not know what level of grant will come from central Government.

The mayor of Co Cork, Fine Gael councillor Noel O’Connor, said yesterday he would immediately contact his minister to express concern about the delay in revealing the amount of Local Government Grant due to the council for 2014.

Fianna Fáil councillor Alan Coleman described the delay as “totally frustrating” and said it made county manager Martin Riordan’s job of balancing the books extremely hard, especially as the 2014 budget was to be discussed on Friday.

Mr Riordan confirmed he still had not been told of the value of the LGG.

He previously said he may have to increase rates if that grant is reduced again, as it has been in recent years.

Mr Riordan added that he also did not yet know the financial ramifications of the council acting as agents for Irish Water.

The latter takes over the running of the nation’s water and sewerage schemes on Jan 1.

Mr Riordan said he had put together a budget “based on assumptions” that he would receive the same level of LGG as last year.

He told Labour councillor Ronan Sheehan that he liked to think he would not have to increase rents for local authority tenants or pass on the Local Property Tax to them, but that was dependent on what the grant would be.

Mr Riordan received glowing tributes from councillors with just nine days before he retires.

Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy noted Mr Riordan took up the post seven years ago, during the country’s boom.

“Not long after it quickly went bust. You handled the situation pretty well,” said Mr Murphy.

He said one of Mr Riordan’s legacies was persuading Bord Fáilte that Spike Island could become a tourist mecca. “You can be justly proud of your record. I feel sad you’re going,” said Mr Murphy.

Labour councillor Noel McCarthy said Mr Riordan’s talents were “held in high regard” within local Government.

Mr Riordan thanked councillors for their tributes, which also included references to him buying Mallow Castle for tourism purposes and earmarking Curraheen for an innovative science and technology park.

He said he would miss working with the councillors but thought it was time for somebody else “to take up the role and drive the organisation for the next seven years”, adding modestly that his staff were able to make him look good.


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