A meeting in Laois County Council has heard calls for an increase in councillors’ discretionary funding for the second month in a row.
Councillors in the Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick Municipal District have called for their discretionary funding – where they have a specific fund to spend on local projects of their choosing – to be doubled.
Currently, councillors receive €23,000 every year which is generally spent on road improvements, footpaths or lighting.
However, the Durrow-based Cllr Ollie Clooney has suggested that that be increased significantly.
The increase in construction costs means that the councillors are now getting “less bang for their buck”.
Cllr James Kelly explained that a new lamp post and light previously cost €3,500 and that has now gone up to €4,300, for example.
“The discretionary funding hasn’t been changed in years,” added Cllr Paddy Bracken from Mountmellick, who is the current chair of that district.
“We’re getting less and less work done for the money we have.”
“I’d like to propose that it’s immediately doubled,” said Cllr Clooney.
“As it stands, all we’re getting done is a couple of lights.
“Local councillors know where the problems are.”
Cllr Conor Bergin told the meeting that each municipal district has also been in receipt of an additional €25,000 in the last couple of years, which councillors had divided up between them to go on projects of their choosing.
He asked if that additional money be made available again next year. Donal Brennan, Director of Services in Laois County Council, said it was a matter for the overall council budget, as was the amount allocated for discretionary funding.
He also told the meeting that the three main sources of finance for the council were through property tax, rates and grants – and that councillors had recently opted against increasing property tax by 5%.
“I fully take on board your views,” said Mr Brennan. “But the question of increasing municipal funding is for the main budget.”
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