Four major projects in Offaly receive funding boost from Local Property Tax increase
Four major projects are to receive a significant funding boost from the money ringfenced from the increase in the 2021 local property tax (LPT).
In September 2019, Offaly County Council voted to increase the local property tax by 15 per cent. It was the first change to the tax in the county since its inception in 2013 and was the highest increase permitted by law.
Following the increase of 2020, it was recommended that the 15 per cent increase be applied again in 2021 and a pot of money, totalling €742,378 was ringfenced to fund these four major projects across the county and enabled the local authority to leverage central Government funding of over €3.1 million for capital projects of “scale” across the county.
Totalling almost €900,000, details of the four projects were outlined at this month's Offaly County Council meeting. It will see Kinnity ORIS 2020 receive funding of €165,330 from Offaly County Council. Edenderry Regeneration Phase 2 will receive €226,476. Tullamore Street Enhancement and UR will receive €250,000 and a Just Transition project, entitled 'Ferbane Rural Regeneration' will eceive €200,000, totalling €841,806. This will mean there will be a €100,000 shortfall to be made up from the 2020 LPT.
Welcoming the news, Cllr Eamon Dooley proposed the adoption of the proposals before the councillors, which was seconded by Cllr Danny Owens.
“The aim of this initiative is to enhance the wellbeing of locals and their environment. The vision of a community like ours that is proactively catering for the needs of all of its young people, from a community creche to a special needs facility, from recreational facilities to skill development, from preparation for employment to third level outcomes. As a result of the accepting of these proposals today, that vision is a huge step closer to realisation and I want to thank everyone involved,” he enthused.
Cllr Owens pointed out the importance of this funding being provided by the LPT increase. However, he then added the LPT was also being paid by people living out the country as well. “We need to make provision for projects that are happening out in the countryside and who don't have access to village renewal or another form of supports. We should seek to promote projects in the rural areas that have scope to develop into something big,” he outlined.
Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick continued in the same vein and said he felt it was important to see where the LPT was going and “see some benefit in more rural areas and villages around the county”.
Cllr Peter Ormond welcomed the proposal and it was “great to see the different agencies coming together to fund these projects”.
“But, I do think that it's important that we have a plan in place that will see this money spread around the county and that projects are developed on a particular basis to make sure that everyone can avail of the benefits of paying this tax."
"If members have ideas and submissions and we could be working with the planning and finance section to ensure we have projects ready to go in the coming years. I think that today is a great day and that we have gotten good value out of the projects that we have put forward last year. I think that it will be the same this year. I can say that we spent that money wisely and will benefit all of the communities, which is important.”
Cllr John Clendennen pointed out it was the first time he had seen the proposal for the Ferbane project since it was agreed at Birr MD to carry out a feasibility study relating to the project.
“It is a two million euro project and it is a sizeable investment and it is going make a significant benefit to a sizeable area of our county. From the point of view of the presentation, I would like to see a lot more information,” he commented.
Later, he remarked that Ferbane was an integral part of the county's town network but he wanted more when making such funding decisions.
Cllr John Leahy also welcomed the funding proposals for the projects. “I would like to think this plan is robust and can go forward with it. If anyone needs any details, they can get it,” he said.
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