Minutes 2021

Minutes of Statutory Budget Meeting of Sligo County Council held on Monday 22nd November 2021 at 10.00 a.m. in The Council Chamber, County Hall, Riverside, Sligo


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

 (R) = participated in the meeting remotely

(C) = participated via County Hall Video Link



  • Martin Lydon, Chief Executive
  • Jim Molloy, Director of Services(C)
  • Dorothy Clarke, Director of Services (C)
  • Tom Kilfeather, Director of Services(C)
  • Marie Whelan, Head of Finance
  • Patricia Guckian, Financial Accountant (C)
  • John Reilly, Head of Enterprise(C)
  • John Moran, Senior Executive Officer(C)
  • Emer Concannon, Senior Engineer(C)
  • Jimmy O’Brien, A/Head of Information Systems
  • Kevin Colreavy, Meetings Administrator
  • Pauline Lavelle, Staff Officer



Cathaoirleach, Councillor Paul Taylor, presided.



The Cathaoirleach welcomed all present and set out the procedures in place as required under Health and Safety protocols.



The Cathaoirleach thanked the Members who had submitted their queries in advance of the meeting.  It was then agreed that these and other queries would be addressed after the presentations to be given by the Directors of Services.


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 G. Mullaney


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



Proposed by Councillor R. O’Grady
Seconded by Councillor T. Healy


“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.”



The Chief Executive expressed his thanks to the Members who had contacted members of the Oireachtas regarding loss of income and additional costs associated with Covid, which has resulted in 70% of these costs being received from the Department.  Although there will still be a shortfall in the Council’s finances, this extra amount received will be of major assistance.

The Chief Executive noted that in the current climate around Covid-19 and rapidly increasing costs associated with building materials and energy costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide matching funding for new Government projects and schemes, which in the main will require a 25% contribution from the Council in 2022.  Inflation will continue to be an issue due to the increased costs, and the Council has already seen the consequences of this in relation to the Cultural Plaza project and the new Community Centre in Cranmore, with both projects retendered as contractors were unable to stand over their prices and new tenders are awaited in order to progress these projects.

The Council, working with the BID Office and Chamber of Commerce, hope to address the problem of derelict houses and vacant business premises in the county.  Sligo remains one of the counties with the highest rate of vacant businesses in the country and if the Council adopts the recommendation in the budget to levy 50% of the rates liability on vacant property owners for 2022, the finances raised in this regard will be ringfenced for the Rates Incentive Scheme and Shopfront Scheme and will help tackle the dereliction problem in Sligo.

Housing remains a key priority and for the period 2022-2026.  Sligo County Council will be responsible for delivering 517 new homes using various delivery models, these projects will also sustain many jobs during construction period.  The Capital Programme will see a number of significant infrastructural projects progress in 2022, including the N17 Knock to Collooney road and the Eastern Garavogue River Bridge and approach roads.  It is also essential to ensure continued investment in new products such as the Sligo Surf Centre, Greenways and the National Mountain Bike Centre to afford County Sligo the opportunity to be promoted as the Adventure Capital of Ireland.

The Public Sector Pay Agreement: Building Momentum will come to an end in 2022 and the Council is working with the Department on a new Workforce Plan which will incorporate a Local Government Blended Working Policy Framework.  It is expected it will be implemented by March 2022 and will continue to ensure that we serve the citizens of Sligo with enthusiasm, courtesy and absolute respect.  In this regard, the following teams will be configured in 2022:

  • Digital Transformation and Change Team
  • Regeneration Team
  • Housing for All
  • Active Travel Team
  • Assets and Facilities Management

The draft budget book details the aims and goals to be achieved by these changes to the organisational structure of the Council.

Ms Whelan, Head of Finance, outlined the overall summary of expenditure and income for 2022 and the main provisions included in the 2022 Draft Budget.

Councillor Bree welcomed the recommendation the draft budget of the proposal to place a levy of 50% rates on vacant business premises throughout County Sligo and added that the financial benefit incurred will incentivise and attract new businesses to the county and will visually enhance the town and county from a tourist perspective.

In reply to queries received from Members, the Chief Executive advised that the Council has been in contact with the Department on the issue of funding for projects with increased costs and when the updated tenders are received, a revised funding request will be submitted to the Department for these to progress.  Matched funding will also be required.

Regarding the Local Government Blended Working Policy Framework, which it is expected will be implemented by March 2022, this will involve no added cost to the Council as it is a matter of putting arrangements currently in place on a more formal setting.



Director of Services, Mr Molloy, outlined the content of Division A in the draft Budget book as set out from pages 36 – 61.

It was noted that there has been an increase in the budget in this area from €14.26 million to €14.50 million across revenue expenditure in a number of different areas. 

The Director of Services advised that there are many challenges to face in the Housing department, particularly on the issues of rising materials and construction costs and lack of available accommodation, including private rental properties.

The Members commended staff in all areas of the Housing section for their diligent work over the past year in challenging circumstances.

In response to queries from the Members, the Director of Services advised as follows:

  • A review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme is due to commence  and the Members will be updated on progress.
  • Limits for the Housing Aid for Older People grants will be reviewed.
  • The ambition to achieve equitable investment throughout the county between the three Municipal Districts will be reviewed and an Action Plan is due to be submitted to the Department in December.
  • A proposal to provide sites to people to build houses will be considered.
  • Discussions are ongoing with the Department regarding standards for inspections of private rented and Council owned properties and the Members will be updated on the matter.



Mr. Kilfeather, Director of Services, informed Members that the details of this Division are set out on pages 64 – 93, with the Statutory Table F on pages 91 – 93.

Funding was received from two sources for this area – from T.I.I. for National Roads and DTTAS for Regional and Local Roads.  It is anticipated that the notification of the allocation from T.I.I. for 2021 will be received before Christmas, and from DTTAS in January 2022.

This will allow for preparation of a 2022 Roadworks Programme to be brought before each Municipal District in February and the Plenary meeting in March 2022.

The Council expects to receive similar funding for 2022 as for 2021.

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.

Mr Kilfeather responded to a number of queries raised by Members:

  • Footpath enhancement Scheme – A proposed funding allocation of €300,000 for 2022 will only address a small part of the current demand, but if delivered each year for the term of this Council, will see an investment of approx €1.5M in footpath improvements across the county. The Active Travel Scheme will also supplement this investment.
  • Public lighting – An additional budget of €40,000 has been set aside for 2022 to meet increased costs.
  • Active Travel Plan – There is a very significant programme to deliver under the Active Travel Plan which is 100% funded by the NTA, the initial programme to run for five years. Three staff are to be employed as part of the Active Travel Scheme and there is no time limit for spending the allocation. The delivery of a Local Transport Plan for Sligo City & Environs will be a key deliverable for the Active Travel Team in 2022.
  • Capital projects:
  • Eastern Garavogue Bridge – It is hoped to complete tender documents in 2022 with a view to commencing construction in 2023 – estimated construction period is 30 months.
  • Burton Street/Mail Coach Road Link Scheme – Preliminary investigations have recently been completed. Anticipated tender for construction of the scheme will issue in February/March 2022.
  • N16 Lugatober Scheme - A request will be made to TII this month to progress the construction contract for the 2.5km scheme to tender. Subject to approval and a 2022 funding allocation this Scheme may go to construction later in 2022.
  • N59 Corhownagh to Lugnadiffa Scheme – It is intended to progress this Scheme into Phase 3, Design & Environmental evaluation Phase in 2022.
  • Markievicz Footbridge – Documents had been prepared with a view to submission to an Bord Pleanála. It is, however, considered prudent to wait until the proposed Local Transport Plan is prepared to proceed further as changes may be required in the design of the proposed bridge.
  • N17 Collooney to Knock Project – It is hoped to have a preferred route by early 2022, which should be published in March/April followed by a further round of public consultation. That will be followed by a more detailed design and environmental evaluation A further staffing complement fully funded by TII and dedicated to the N17 Scheme will be recruited early in 2022 to give greater impetus to the project.
  • O’Connell Street Enhancement Scheme Phase II – The contract has been signed with work to start early January 2022, with a target completion date of end June

The Director of Services also advised as follows:

A budget of approximately €3m has been sought to carry out overlay works on the N59 Owenbeg to Culleens 3km stretch in 2022.

The Council is not aware of any issues around capacity at Enniscrone WWTP.  Concerns expressed by Members will be brought to the attention of Irish Water.

The proposed N4 Active Travel route from Collooney to Castlebaldwin will run from Doorly Td. to Castlebaldwin on the existing N4 on lands previously acquired by CPO as part of the Collooney/Castlebaldwin realignment.  This Active Travel route will link to the newly constructed footway/cycleway facility, tender documents will be prepared in 2022.

TII will assume the role of “Approving Authority” under the Public Spending Code for Greenway Projects. This process is currently in transition, but it is expected that the National Road Project Office will have some involvement with the following Greenway Projects:

  • Sligo Greenway – Collooney to Bellaghy – Advance Stages 2 to 4 of the TII PMG
  • SLNCR Sligo to Enniskillen Greenway.
  • Connaughton Road Site Regeneration
  • Wine Street Car Park Centre Block Development
  • Way Finding Strategy
  • Seaside Village Enhancement Schemes for Strandhill & Rosses Point
  • Walks and Trails.

The Members were updated on the current status of these Greenway projects.

Improvements to footpaths in Grange and Cliffoney and other locations will be considered in context of budgets and supported by the Active Travel Plan. 

The Council is happy to work with local communities to assist them in relation to playgrounds within funding limits available to the Council.

Mr Kilfeather noted that a report was previously provided to Members regarding grass cutting at cemeteries and estates in Sligo town.



Director of Services Mr. Kilfeather outlined the content of Division C in the draft Budget book as had been set out from pages 97 – 98.

Mr. Kilfeather confirmed that to manage water and wastewater 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.

An update on details of works funded under the Capital Investment Programme for schemes at Mullaghmore, Castlebaldwin was outlined by the Director, together with an update on the Rosses Point to Sligo City Wastewater Treatment Works.

Members welcomed the details provided regarding works it was proposed would commence in 2022.



Ms Clarke, Director of Services, presented an overview of budgetary issues in relation to Planning, Community and Economic Development, Arts & Libraries, Heritage Office and LEO, comprising Programme Groups D and F.

The two year review process for the 2023 – 2029 County Development Plan (CDP) has just commenced, with the publication of the Short Issues Paper in July. Ninety submissions were received. The first CE report will be presented to Members in early 2023.

A total of 470 planning applications were processed in 2020.  445 applications were processed to the end of October 2021 and it is expected that the number of applications received in 2021 will be nearer to that of 2019 levels, when 532 applications were received and processed. 

Ms Clarke outlined details of the various funding streams relating to various projects in these Divisions including the following, planned for 2022 and beyond:

The Director of Services provided an overview relating to funding in the following areas for 2022:

  • Heritage Office - to include the Greenfort Action Plan for conservation of this site.
  • Community & Economic Development – to include funding for projects such as Christmas lights, tidy towns, Pride of Place competitions, among others. The Economic Development team is being headed by Mr Gordon Burke, Economic Development Officer.
  • Tourism Development - to include funding for such projects as The Surf Centre, The Cultural Plaza and toilet and shower blocks at Enniscrone and Rosses Point.
  • Tourism Promotion - includes details of funding for Sligo Airport, IWAK, Sligo Tourism and Festival and Events funding.
  • Sligo Food Trail – Funding maintained at 2021 level.

In response to queries from the Members, the Director of Services informed the meeting that the minimal amount that has been collected in Vacant Sites Levies to date.  While only €42,000 out of a possible €983,000 has been collected, when work commences or when these lands are sold, the value will realise to Sligo County Council at that stage.



The Festival & Events Strategy cannot be finalised until there is further clarity on how such events are to proceed.  The role of the Festival & Events Co-Ordinator will be reviewed before the end of the year.

A location for a Skate Park has not yet been identified but this matter is being examined, together with sourcing a suitable funding stream.

The North West Regional Enterprise Plan is currently being compiled, due to be completed in early 2022. Copies of the Plan will be provided to the Members at that stage.

In respect of larger residential developments in excess of 100 units, the Strategic Housing Development process is to be replaced by the Strategic Residential Development process, to come on stream in 2022. Members will be briefed on this in due course.  While the Council will have a role to play in this process, it is largely dependent on submission of planning applications for housing developments by the private sector, in order to ensure that housing targets are met.

The Department recently announced that Sligo is one of six applicants to seek entry on the Tentative List to attain Unesco World Heritage Sites status.  A meeting is to be held with the Department in the near future and the Members will be kept updated on the matter.



Mr. Kilfeather, Director of Services, set out the information under the various headings on pages 136-151 of the Budget Book

Greenstar have lodged a number of applications to the EPA for the provision of hazardous waste facilities throughout the county, but no decision has yet been made to date on these applications. The Council will meet with Greenstar with a view to progressing this matter as soon as possible.

Sligo County Council is developing a new public amenity facility at the former landfill site in Finisklin, and will include

  • Walking paths
  • Car park
  • Viewing platform over Sligo Bay
  • Signage for local wildlife and points of interest
  • Birds Nest boxes
  • Construction of Natural Habitat and hibernation sites for small mammals.

An application has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála and a decision is expected by mid 2022.

Some solar bins have been installed, while six more have been purchased and will be located as follows:

  • 2 in Sligo Town
  • 2 in Rosses Point
  • 2 in Enniscrone.

Depending on available funding, consideration will be given to the provision of more solar bins throughout the county.

The Director acknowledged the assistance given by the Members of the Sligo/Drumcliff MD area regarding provision of burial ground facilities at Ahamlish and Rosses Point. Efforts are also being made to address the flooding issues at Ahamlish cemetery.

A columbarium has been installed in Rosses Point and consideration will be given to the provision of such a facility in the Ballymote-Tubbercurry area in 2022.

Mr Kilfeather outlined details relating to the following areas:

  • Lifeguard services at beaches
  • Bring bank facilities
  • Climate change
  • Parks and Open Spaces – a number of projects in the Sligo Town area to benefit from funding
  • Sports Capital Funding projects.



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



Proposed by Councillor T. Healy
Seconded by Councillor D. Bree


“Sligo County Council call on the Government to give the same level of funding to roads per kilometre.  This should be the same across the country.  Between 2008 to 2018 this has not been the case and Sligo and the North West has been underfunded and this now needs to be addressed.”



Following a discussion by the Members on this issue, it was then:

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

“That the Council adopts and welcomes the recommendations included in the Budget, that the owners of vacant properties are required to pay 50% of their rates liability for the financial year 2022, which will raise invoiced income of €847,000, and which will fund a rates incentive scheme and tackle dereliction.”

A vote was then called by the Cathaoirleach on this motion.

The result of the vote was as follows:

FOR:                      4

AGAINST:           14

The Cathaoirleach declared the motion lost.


Proposed by Councillor D. Gilroy
Seconded by Councillor M. Clarke

“That rates on vacant commercial properties are paid by property owners on a sliding scale as follows:

Rates up to €3k – pay 30% / 70% write off

Rates €3k - €20k – pay 40% / 60% write off

Rates €20k plus – pay 50% / 50% write off.”

A vote was then called by the Cathaoirleach on this motion.

The result of the vote was as follows:

FOR:                  12

AGAINST:           0

ABSTAIN:           6

The Cathaoirleach declared the motion carried.



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


“To ask the Department to increase our allocation from €10.2m to €13m under LPT 2023.”



Proposed by Councillor R. O’Grady
Seconded by Councillor G. Mullaney


“To note the Chief Executive’s report on the proposed three year Capital Programme 2022 – 2024  (pages 190 – 193 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 2022 as submitted by the Chief Executive Officer, as set out in Tables A, B & C of the said Budget.”

Councillor Gibbons and Councillor O’Boyle requested to be recorded as abstaining.



Proposed by Councillor R. O’Grady
Seconded by Councillor J. Queenan


“That Sligo County Council hereby determines in accordance with the Budget for the local financial year ending on the 31stDecember 2022, 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 2022.  The rateable valuation multiplier as determined, being €.23.”



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


“That the allowance for the Cathaoirleach be fixed at €20,000 per annum with effect from the 1stJanuary, 2022.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred by the Cathaoirleach within County Sligo.”



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


“That the allowance for the Leas Cathaoirleach be fixed at €4,000 per annum with effect from the 1stJanuary, 2022.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred by the Leas Cathaoirleach within County Sligo.”



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


“That the allowance for the Mayor of the Sligo Borough Municipal District be fixed at €12,000 per annum with effect from the 1stJanuary, 2022.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred by the Mayor within the Municipal District.”



Proposed by Councillor D. Bree
Seconded by Councillor J. Queenan


“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 1stJanuary, 2022.  This allowance is to be paid monthly in arrears to cover reasonable expenses incurred.”



The Cathaoirleach thanked the Members for their co-operation at the meeting and encouraged everyone to stay safe. 

The business of the meeting concluded at 13.50.


Meeting Date 22/11/2021