Minutes 2020

Minutes of Statutory Budget Meeting of Sligo County Council held on Monday, 23rd November, 2020 at 10.00 a.m. in The Regional Sports Centre, Cleveragh, Sligo.


  • Councillor Baker,
  • Councillor Bree,
  • Councillor Casserly,
  • Councillor Clarke,
  • Councillor Connolly,
  • Councillor Fox,
  • Councillor Gibbons,
  • Councillor Gilroy,
  • Councillor Healy,
  • Councillor MacSharry,
  • Councillor Mullaney,
  • Councillor Mulvey,
  • Councillor O’Boyle,
  • Councillor O’Grady,
  • Councillor Queenan,
  • Councillor Taylor,
  • Councillor Walsh.



  • Ciarán Hayes, Chief Executive
  • Tom Kilfeather, Director of Services
  • Dorothy Clarke, Director of Services
  • John Reilly, Head of Enterprise
  • Marie Whelan, Head of Finance
  • John Moran, A/Director of Services
  • Seán Martin, A/Senior Architect
  • Joe Murphy, Senior Executive Officer
  • Kevin Colreavy, Meetings Administrator
  • Clodagh Quinn, Staff Officer
  • Jo-Anne McGonigle, Assistant Staff Officer



Apologies were received from Councillor S. Maguire.



The Cathaoirleach welcomed all present and asked Mr. Moran, Acting Director of Services and Compliance Officer for the meeting to set out the procedures to be followed.

Mr. Moran informed the meeting of the procedures that had to be followed in order to hold the meeting during the Covid-19 pandemic (as required under Health and Safety protocols).

The Cathaoirleach referred to a Meeting of Sligo County Council’s Procedures Committee held on the 10th November.  At that meeting, it had been agreed that the following arrangements would apply for the December Ordinary Meeting:

  • 13 Councillors attending in the Council Chamber in County Hall,
  • Six members of the Executive attending in the Council Chamber,
  • Other Councillors and Executive to attend virtually.

It was highlighted that Councillors attending virtually would have full voting rights.

Members would discuss who would attend in the Chamber and who would attend virtually.

If Members agreed with the proposals from the Procedures Committee, arrangements would proceed as follows:

This arrangement for monthly meetings may require an amendment to Standing Orders.  Such amendments would be considered by the Procedures Committee and update to include any changes required, and time limitation applying to such changes, before being brought to the full Council for approval.

The Members agreed to the arrangements as set out by the Cathaoirleach.

Councillor O’Grady noted that this arrangement had a time limitation or ‘sunset clause’ as the Cathaoirleach had referred to and she felt this was important.

The Chief Executive said he noted that this had been agreed by the Members for the December Ordinary Meeting.  He said he would suggest that, following the December Meeting and progress in Covid-19 arrangements, the Procedures Committee would meet again in December, well in advance of the January Meeting. 

In the event that Members decided to hold virtual meetings in future months, the Procedures Committee recommended a rotation of Members in the Chamber and virtually.  The Members noted the deliberations of the Procedures Committee and agreed to proceed on a rotation basis.



The Cathaoirleach extended his thanks to Members who had submitted their queries in advance of the meeting.  With the co-operation of all those present, he would endeavour to get through the business on the agenda at this meeting.





The Cathaoirleach informed the meeting that he had two resolutions to hand and they were as follows.

Proposed by Councillor J. Queenan
Seconded by Councillor T. Walsh


“That all motions seeking an increase in expenditure or a reduction in income under any heading must either show a corresponding decrease in expenditure or an increase in realisable income”.


Proposed by Councillor M. Clarke
Seconded by Councillor R. O’Grady


“That no further motion be voted on by the Council until such time as the entire budget has been considered in detail”.



The Chief Executive, in referring to the draft Budget as issued to the Members, noted that Budget 2021 sought to reflect the position as at 2020.  Everyone was conscious of issues surrounding Covid-19.  While it was having an impact, every effort was being made to continue the level of services for constituents and citizens.  He wished to acknowledge the positive political role in securing rates income for 2020 while noting continuing uncertainty regarding Covid-19 costs and recoupment and the loss of income due to the pandemic. 

In relation to an increase in services, there had been a deferral in the increase in Housing rents due to the pandemic.  This increase had been provided for in Sligo County Council’s 2020 income.  He confirmed it is an Executive function and the income is for maintenance that requires a funding source.  Sligo County Council has the lowest rent in the country which had not been increased for a number of years.  This had given rise to an increase in the number of ‘Voids’ as it was not possible to carry out necessary change of tenancy repairs.  He noted that the Council has the lowest maintenance costs spent on social housing in the country and does not have sufficient rental income to invest in the appropriate maintenance of the Council’s social housing stock. 

A document was circulated to the Members at the meeting setting out the savings made in Cranmore following the retrofit of social housing there and it was stated that the Council had an obligation to upgrade all social housing stock to the same standard and similarly benefit from the energy savings.  If the rental increase is included in the Budget, it would provide over €600,000 for planned maintenance to help achieve that objective.  In the event that the Executive did not go ahead with the rent increase, that €600,000 would not be available to them to upgrade stock as required. 

The Head of Finance then referred to the Budget book and, in particular, noted that on pages 5, 6 and 7 she had set out the changes for Budget 2021.  Included were details of income and expenditure in a myriad of different areas.

Details were set out under the following headings:

  • Financial Position
  • Overall Summary
  • Main provisions included in 2021 Draft Budget
  • Division C
  • Income
  • Rates and
  • Current Financial Position.

The Head of Finance drew the Members’ attention to various aspects of the details contained therein.  Further details were set out of the assistance being given by Sligo County Council to small businesses who were experiencing difficulties or had to close due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Councillor Bree said that, given that the Members were considering a Budget in the midst of a pandemic, it was obvious that there was little or no room for manoeuvre.  He said it was regrettable that a scheme had not been introduced for the collection of rates on vacant premises and he said he was hopeful that the Council would consider this again at a future Budget meeting, post Covid-19.  The numbers of people availing of HAP and RAS was unprecedented.  Taking into consideration what the Chief Executive had said regarding Central Government’s decision on rates income, he felt that there was no justification for increasing rents on Council Tenants.



Mr. Moran outlined the content of Division A in the Draft Budget Book as had been set out from pages 35 to 57. 

It was noted that there had been an increase in the Budget in this area from €13.6 million to €14.226 million.  The bulk of that increase related to investment in Council stock. 

The Acting Director of Services referred to essential works such as electrical works, lifts, hoists etc. and noted that these items could not be left undone as this would leave the County Council open to claims. 

Details of increases in workloads in the Housing area were also identified.  It was intended to recruit two further staff members to assist in this area; a Technician and a Housing Liaison Officer. 

In relation to rents, Mr. Moran noted that the last rent review had taken place in 2015.  In a survey of all local authorities, Sligo was the lowest with an average rent of €38 per week.  The average in Ireland is €57.76 per week.  NOAC had also identified that Sligo had the lowest spend per unit and the need to address this deficiency.

Details as furnished to the Members across this Division were again briefly referred to and items of particular interest raised by Members in the past highlighted.

In reply, Councillor O’Boyle said that he did not think that the rental income would be funding the retrofitting of houses in Cranmore and Sligo County Council should be seeking additional funding.

Proposed by Councillor G. O’Boyle
Seconded by Councillor D. Bree

“That the proposal to increase rents for Council Tenants would be deferred by twelve months.” 

Councillor Bree referred to the Executive’s decision to defer the rent increase in 2020 due to Covid-19.  This had been welcomed by Council Tenants across the county and he was hopeful that they would look on this sympathetically.

Councillor Bree said that he wished to thank Mr. Murphy and staff in the Housing Department for the very helpful document they had forwarded to him in reply to queries raised by him.  He asked that a copy of this document would be circulated to all Members and this was agreed.

Mr. Murphy responded to further queries by Councillor Bree and informed the meeting that an additional €170,000 in funding had been secured to meet additional needs in the current year.  This was following a submission to the Department regarding works on the Council’s own housing stock.  This money was practically spent at this time.

Councillor Bree welcomed this positive news and noted that this matter had been raised at the last meeting of the Housing S.P.C. and at Council meetings.

Councillor Baker referred to the Clerks of Works in Housing having worked tirelessly this year.  He said that, due to Covid-19, there had been a period of five or six months that Builders could not go into homes.  He hoped that Councils would not be punished as a result and noted that, rather than what was allocated this year, Sligo County Council should be getting an increase.

Councillor O’Grady thanked Mr. Moran for his report and said all Members had huge concerns.  She referred to the high standards of recently completed developments at Fr. O’Flanagan Terrace and Cartron Hill/Rosses Point Road.  In looking forward to the allocation of homes in the development on Knappagh Road, she said it was wonderful to see developments of this standard from a local authority. 

Councillor Casserly added her thanks to those staff that had assisted in carrying out emergency works for vulnerable people during the pandemic. 

Councillor Gibbons outlined his concerns in relation to those in receipt of payments under the HAP Scheme and the difficulties they encountered in obtaining accommodation with the sums allowed.

In responding to the query raised by Councillor Mullaney, Mr. Moran confirmed that the difficulties, due to the pandemic, were common to all local authorities.  He felt that the Department would have to take into account the exceptional circumstances that apply this year.

In reply to a query from Councillor Healy, Mr. Martin confirmed that the one off house in Dromore West was a build by Sligo County Council.  Councillor Healy was glad to hear that confirmation and expressed the wish that more, similar works would be carried out in the future.



The meeting was informed by Mr. Kilfeather that the details of this Division had been furnished to the Members in the draft Budget book from page 59. 

Funding was received from two sources for this area – from T.I.I. for National Roads and from the Department of Transport for Regional and Local Roads.  It was anticipated that the notification of the allocation from T.I.I. for 2021 would be received in December and from the Department of Transport in January.

Following receipt of those notifications, the proposed Roadworks Programme would be brought before each Municipal District in February and the full County Council in March.

The Director of Services set out the details of a busy year ahead in this area.  He also responded to queries which had been submitted in relation to C.I.S. and L.I.S. Schemes.

Other areas where Members raised queries and which were responded to by Mr. Kilfeather were in relation to

  • Footpath enhancement Scheme
  • Public lighting
  • Western Distributor Road (scheduled to be opened on 18th December)
  • Capital projects
    • N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin Scheme
    • N16 Lugatober
    • N17 preferred route (Knock to Collooney)
    • Eastern Garavogue Bridge
    • Burton Street Link Road
    • N4/N15 Urban Improvement Scheme
    • N59 Corhownagh to Lugnadeffa Scheme
    • Markievicz Footbridge.



Mr. Kilfeather confirmed that to manage water and waste water services from 2014, Irish Water developed service level agreements with all Local Authorities.

Sligo County Council continues to bear the costs of operation of public conveniences and administration costs associated with group water scheme operations.

Details of works underway under the Capital Programme were set out by the Director of Services.

These included the following Schemes:

  • Lough Talt
  • Foxes Den
  • Upgrades at Ballymote and Collooney
  • Rosses Point Sewerage
  • Cliffoney and Mullaghmore schemes
  • Rural Water Programme

Members welcomed the details provided regarding works it was proposed would commence in 2021.



Details of this area were set out by Ms. Clarke, Director of Services.  Among the areas in this division are the areas of Planning, Forward Planning, Enforcement, Heritage Office, Community and Economic Development and the Local Enterprise Office.

In relation to the Planning Office, a total of 524 applications were processed in 2019.  For the first nine months of 2020, the number of planning applications received (340) represented an 18% fall compared to the corresponding period in 2019.  This is largely attributable to the restrictions and concerns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.  It was hoped that 2021 would see a return to more normal levels of activity.

Ms. Clarke also outlined details to the meeting relating to the following areas of work in this Division and particularly those planned for 2021:

  • Sligo and Environs Local Area Plan
  • Review of Sligo County Development Plan
  • Implementation of the Public Realm Plan and Village Schemes.

It was noted that demands for the collection of the 2019 vacant site levies are to be issued before the end of 2020.  The Register will be monitored and reviewed in 2021.

Funding under the various headings was briefly set out by the Director of Services to the Meeting with relevant breakdowns of the sums involved.

Councillor Walsh welcomed the proposed appointment of a Festivals and Events Programme Manager and said he felt this appointment would be a great asset to the county.  He encouraged Members to support local events, e.g. the “Wild Roots” Event scheduled to take place on the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2021.

Councillor Queenan put forward a proposal that Members would try to complete discussions on the relevant Programmes at this Budget Meeting.  The Cathaoirleach enquired if Members were willing to work through the programmes and then move on to any proposed amendments and votes. This was agreed by the Members.

In response to a query, the Chief Executive confirmed that this was the Members’ meeting, the Executive had made themselves available to answer questions and had circulated information and given answers to the Members.  All documentation had been issued and it was a matter for the Members at this point as to how to proceed.

Councillor Casserly said she wished to suggest that, where possible, local companies would be included in any Tendering process for upcoming works, e.g. public art installations.

Councillor Bree expressed his disappointment that, to date, the vacant site levy demands for 2019 had not been issued, having regard to the fact that sums from €80,000 to €2 million were involved.  Should the Chief Executive decide to respond positively to the request not to increase rents for Council tenants, the shortfall could be made up from the income from the Vacant Sites Levy. He also referred to the funding in place for works at the Green Fort at Forthill and Ms. Clarke clarified the details of the project

In response to a query regarding ‘Lest Sligo Forgets’, staffing issues in relation to the management of the Cranmore Regeneration Project were clarified.  It was confirmed that there is no impact from Monument costs on the funding of the Regeneration project.



The Cathaoirleach informed the meeting that he would now take each resolution as they had been received, together with statutory resolutions.



Proposed by Councillor G. O’Boyle
Seconded by Councillor D. Bree


“That the proposal to increase rents for Council Tenants would be deferred by twelve months.”

The Chief Executive said he wished to confirm that this is an Executive Function.  In response to Councillor O’Boyle who had earlier referred to funding from Central Government, he confirmed that the Executive would be applying for additional funding from all possible sources.  While there were certain works that are absolutely essential, he appreciated the difficult position facing the Members in respect of the rent increase.  However, as it is an Executive Function and in light of the need to provide additional maintenance for Council houses, it is his intention to exercise that function.

In reply, Councillor O’Boyle asked that Members would not support the Budget until the contents of the resolution were implemented.  



Proposed by Councillor D. Bree
Seconded by Councillor G. O’Boyle


“That this meeting, recognising the urgent need for adequate grant aid to fund the Disabled Persons Grant Scheme for Council tenants, condemns the governments ongoing cut in funding and calls on the government, at a minimum, to restore funding for the Disabled Persons Scheme to its 2016 level of €628,346.”



Proposed by Councillor D. Bree
Seconded by Councillor G. O’Boyle


“That in view of the ever intensifying housing crisis this meeting calls on the Government and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, to immediately commit to a realistic investment programme in Council housing.”



Proposed by Councillor J. Queenan
Seconded by Councillor G. Mullaney


“To note the Chief Executive’s report on the proposed three year Capital Programme 2021-2023 (pages 163-166 Budget Book).”



Proposed by Councillor J. Queenan
Seconded by Councillor T. Walsh

“That Sligo County Council hereby adopts the Budget for the local financial year ending on the 31st December, 2021 as submitted by the Chief Executive Officer, as set out in Tables A, B and C of the said Budget.”

A vote on this resolution resulted as follows:

FOR:   Councillor Baker, Councillor Casserly, Councillor Clarke, Councillor Connolly, Councillor Fox, Councillor MacSharry, Councillor Mullaney, Councillor Mulvey, Councillor O’Grady, Councillor Queenan, Councillor Taylor and Councillor Walsh  (12)                      

AGAINST:  Councillor Bree, Councillor Gibbons, Councillor Gilroy, Councillor Healy and Councillor O’Boyle (5)

ABSENT:  Councillor Maguire (1)

The Cathaoirleach deemed this resolution CARRIED.



Proposed by Councillor J. Queenan
Seconded by Councillor T. Walsh


“That Sligo County Council hereby determines in accordance with the Budget for the local financial year ending on the 31st December, 2021, as adopted at this meeting, the rateable valuation multiplier to be levied for the purposes specified in such budgets as set out in tables B and C for the financial year 2021.  The rateable valuation multiplier, as determined, being €.23.”



Proposed by Councillor R. O’Grady
Seconded by Councillor P. Taylor


“That the allowance for the Cathaoirleach be fixed at €20,000 per annum with effect from the 1st January, 2021.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred by the Cathaoirleach within County Sligo.”



Proposed by Councillor R. O’Grady
Seconded by Councillor P. Taylor


“That the allowance for the Leas Cathaoirleach be fixed at €4,000 per annum with effect from the 1st January, 2021.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred by the Leas Cathaoirleach within County Sligo.”



Proposed by Councillor D. Bree
Seconded by Councillor G. O’Boyle


“That the allowance for the Mayor of the Sligo Borough Municipal District be fixed at €12,000 per annum with effect from the 1st January, 2021.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred by the Mayor within the Municipal District.”



Proposed by Councillor J. Queenan
Seconded by Councillor M. Connolly


“That the allowance for the Cathaoirleach of the Tubbercurry-Ballymote Municipal District and the Sligo-Drumcliff Municipal District and the Chairperson of each Strategic Policy Committee be fixed at €6,000 per annum with effect from the 1st January, 2021.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred.”



The business of the meeting concluded at 11.55 a.m.


Meeting Date 23/11/2020