Relief as Waterford councillors finally agree Budget for 2020
Waterford councillors have finally passed a budget for 2020 after marathon talks lasting over nine hours stretched into the early hours of the morning at City Hall.
However, the passing of the budget has created bitter divisions between the different parties and spells the end of the governing pack between Sinn Féin, who refused to back the deal, Labour, Greens and Independents.
Talks to form a new pact will begin next week.
Councillors met at 3pm yesterday to try to identify savings to plug a €1.2 million deficit in the local authority finances caused by the recent reevaluation of Irist Water assets.
The controlling group on the council, consisting of Labour, Greens and some Independents, made several amendments to the budget put forward by council CEO Michael Walsh, recommending a 2.5% rates hike instead of 5%.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and five Sinn Féin councillors initially voted against the proposals. However, after another adjournment, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael agreed to accept the deal, albeit with a number of ammendments.
The Budget was finally backed by 24 councillors from across almost all groups.
The passing of the Budget leaves Sinn Féin isolated on the council.
However, Sinn Féin’s group leader on the council, Conor McGuinness, this morning defended the party’s decision not to back the budget.
He blamed the Government for the “cuts and increases in rates” which he said are “unsustainable”.
Councillor McGuinness added: “Waterford City and County will have €14.5m less to spend over the next five years – while at the same time Cork would have an additional €15m, Galway an additional €12m, and Kilkenny an additional €4.5m.”