Ballina councillors have called for an immediate meeting with the Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, as Mr Hynes is withholding the paying out of GMA monies, that is the monies that a range of voluntary organisations across the county receive annually from the local authority.
It appears that the monies are being withheld, because the anticipated funding that the local authority budgeted for from car parking charges, is short 400,000 euro.
Director of Services for Mayo County Council Tom Gilligan told angry councillors yesterday at the monthly meeting of Ballina Municipal District that the monies are being withheld while a process is underway to see how the 400,000 euro shortfall from Pay and Display car parking charges that were agreed by councillors in the budget can now be resolved.
It was a long, and at times, angry meeting, where elected councillors simply refused to accept the response of Director of Services Tom Gilligan – and eventually called for Peter Hynes, the man in charge, the CEO of the county, to come and talk to them himself.
Councillors said that a number of organisations in Ballina are dependent on receiving the GMA contribution at this time of the year, like the 20,000 euro that Ballina Salmon Festival has been promised, monies to Ballina Arts Centre, funding to Tidy Towns, residents associations, the chamber and so on.
Without the money, a variety of festival committees will be hit, the councillors claimed.
They said if the revenue from Pay and Display car parking charges is not what was agreed in the budget, insinuating that Westport’s refusal to introduce street car parking charges was the main cause of the shortfall, than why should voluntary organisations in Ballina have to pay for that?
Councillors asked why the GMA allocation that had to be hit, why not take back some of the funding they allocated to the LEO office, or councillors' expenses or any other item in the budget?
But despite the volume of questions the answer by the Director of Services remained the same – the process to look at how the shortfall in the agreed budget can be resolved is underway and the GMA will not be paid out until it is resolved.
Fianna Fail councillor Annie Mae Reape is the Cathaoirleach of Ballina Municipal District and she told Midwest News that they are now demanding answers directly from Mr Hynes.