Comments by Cork county manager Martin Riordan have fuelled further speculation that he is about to raise rates for the first time in five years and led to a major row between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
At yesterday’s council meeting in County Hall, Cllr Tim Lombard (FG) proposed that the manager should not increase the burden on ratepayers for 2014 — which he has held off on doing for the past five years.
Fianna Fáil councillors smelt what they described as “a cynical new low” where he was “trying to curry favour” with businesses ahead of the local elections.
The Fianna Fáil leader on the council, Cllr Alan Coleman, said his council had higher rates than all neighbouring counties and Cork had a huge industrial base, and therefore bigger contributors, than they had.
“At the same rate we screw our small businesses because we’ve been run by a Fine Gael-led council for 20 years,” he bellowed.
Fine Gael council leader Cllr Kevin Murphy retorted by claiming it was “a typical Fianna Fáil rant.”
As Cllr Murphy’s colleagues continued to defend Cllr Lombard, the Fianna Fáil soldiers suggested that instead of not increasing the rates, the manager should reduce them. Cllr Donal O’Rourke (FF) lambasted Cllr Lombard for being “cynical” only a few days after his party’s minister, Phil Hogan announced the council wouldn’t get one cent from the property tax which they had been promised would allow the local authority to provide a proper level of service.
Cllr David Boyle (Ind) said Limerick had dropped its rates by 5%, but Mr Riordan said this was achieved through savings by amalgamating both councils and they got a serious injection of cash as a result from the Government.
He added that if he got such an injection he might be able to pass it onto the ratepayers.
He concluded by saying that if the Government reduces its funding, he would have no choice but to consider a rate increase.
Cork Chamber last night urged the county manager not to increase the rates.
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