Just €49m for roads as €129m paid in tax

Cork motorists paid out €129m in motor vehicle tax last year, but the county council received just a fraction of that to maintain 11,000km of roads.

Councillors — angry with just a €49m allocation for roads — are calling on the Department of Transport to publish a list of every county’s road tax contribution, as well as the respective allocation for road maintenance.

The county council also processes the vehicle tax for the city council and hands the cash directly to central government. It is not reimbursed for the wages of its motor tax staff.

Councillors have regularly complained they are not getting a fair share of the vehicle tax collected.

Figures obtained by the Irish Examiner show the council cannot afford to continue the upkeep of roads in Co Cork.

A UCC report, which the county commissioned, showed it also has not received an appropriate share of the national Local Government Fund between 1997 and 2011.

Between 2008 and 2013, the allocation from the department to Cork County Council fell from €58m to €33m.

The council has limited discretionary sources to fund roads maintenance outside these funds. Commercial rates make up 30% of revenue, but have been frozen at 2008 levels in a bid to respond to the pressures experienced by businesses.

Meanwhile, planning application fees fell from €3.38m in 2008 to €1.1m last year, while development contributions were down from €37.6m in 2008 to €5.83m in 2012.

Council officials say the deficits are having a considerable effect on the resources expended on the upkeep of roads.

The road network has been hit by severe weather, particularly since 2009. In 2010, the council invested €6m from reserves, for emergency repairs and another €2m in 2011.

Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG), like several of his council colleagues, said the local authority had lost the battle to maintain its roads and urgently needed a major once-off payment to return the network to a proper standard.


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