Commercial rates for businesses in Co Louth are set to remain unchanged next year.
The decision not to alter the current rates was made at yesterday’s Budget meeting of the council at County Hall.
From next year, Louth County Council has 10 years to bring rates throughout the county in line with those in the towns following the abolition of the town and borough councils earlier this year. However, County Manager Joan Martin told the meeting that she hoped to do this over a period of five years instead.
An extra €78,000 was also allocated for housing adaptation grants for the elderly in the county. The extra funds came about after councillors agreed to transfer the money from funding that had been earmarked for the chairperson’s allowances for Louth County Council, the Municipal Districts of Dundalk, Ardee and Drogheda and the local authority’s Special Policy Committees. The motion, put forward by Sinn Féin, also applies to the vice chairperson’s allowances.
Sinn Féin opted to vote against the Budget, however, with Cllr Edel Corrigan insisting the people of Louth could not take further austerity.
She said: “Time and time again Louth County Council have been told to provide more for less, by this Fine Gael / Labour government. We didn’t seek election to sit idle and let the people of our communities suffer again. We in Sinn Féin cannot and will not support a budget that will have a very real and negative impact on the day to day lives of people in this county.
“The adoption of this budget will see no improvement to housing services, road services, or further investment in projects and services that support and build communities, while people and their families are forced to pay more. The people who will suffer at the adoption of this budget are the same people who were passed over by the Celtic Tiger.
“Louth is the most deprived border region in all of Ireland, and, this is not going to change unless we make a stand as elected representatives. We must stand up for the people and communities who elected us, and the onus is on us to look out for their best interests. Louth has had enough, and we deserve more.”
“Dundalk is the most deprived area in the border region and Louth Local authorities need to make provisions so we are not solely relying on others to provide for cross border development. For that reason, the one thing that I do welcome in the budget report are the plans for the cross border and European Relations Unit in the local authority.
“Now is the time to set out aims, objectives and targets in this local authority as to how we can develop and improve this cross border region to see real economic and social changes to better the quality of life for those in the area who have been affected by partition on this island.”