Shiels hits out at “meaningless” budgetary process

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A Donegal councillor has described the budget process as a "farce", claiming that as discussions on the 2016 budget get underway, the entire process is doomed to be meaningless before it even starts.

Cllr Dessie Shiels says last years County budget was passed without a line being changed, after hours of hanging around and several adjournments.

He voted against, saying the process was not acceptable to him.

Cllr Shiels has also hit out at the failure of the council to provide comprehensive Municipal District budgets.

 

 

Cllr Shiels' statement in full -

 

"We are back once again to County Council budget time of the year. However just like last year and the years before it the entire process is doomed to be meaningless before it even starts.

Last years County budget was just passed without a line being changed – Council management prepared a budget and Councillors after spending 12 hours hanging around at Lifford just passed it (for nearly the entire day the actual Council meeting was ‘adjourned’). That was not agreeable to me and I voted against it.

This year we are back on track for more of the same. Each municipal District is supposed to receive from Council management a draft Municipal District Budget to provide for everything from roads to housing but Council management are refusing to furnish any such budget. This is a statutory requirement under the Local Government act 2001 (as amended). Instead Council Management have decided to get over the requirements of legislation by asking councillors to pass a draft  Strategic Development Fund for next year at half the value of what it was this year and then just call that a draft Municipal District Budget, even though its nothing of the kind .

The next acts in the farce are scheduled to take place at Lifford tomorrow where Councillors in each Municipal District will be asked to pass something which even a 3 year old child wouldn’t be convinced is a budget in 5 minutes each. Yes, that is correct, 5 minutes for each Municipal District to pass what is supposed to be a budget – but of course the reason it will only take 5 minutes is it s not a budget at all but only a farcical attempt to give the impression that the budgetary Provisions of the Local Government Act 2001 as amended are being complied with.

Councillors are being asked by Management to do without Municipal District Budgets because its inconvenient but if Councillors allow this then we are failing in our duty to scrutinise every provision of the budget and have a substantive input to it – the simple fact is that despite a legislative requirement to have a Municipal District budget for each Municipal District, no such budgets exist – Council management are refusing to prepare these and Councillors are just going along with that. I have asked for a Municipal District Budget now on several occasions over the last few weeks but Management are refusing to furnish me with same. This is the reality of life as a Councillor - trying to do things right, but being ignored.

In another few weeks a full budget meeting will be held in Lifford at which a Budget of approximately 130 Million Euro will likely be presented. If its anything like last year, there will be bluster and comment but in the end nothing will really change and Council management will have their way budget wise once again.

I want to have a proper say in the budget process and I believe that some other Councillors do too but its just rubber stamping that’s happening at the moment – I’m highlighting this now as the proper statutory budget process is not being followed and the general public deserve to know about this".