AN INTERESTING INVESTIGATION in today’s Irish Independent has thrown up a scary figure for those who worry about potholes in the roads. Paul Melia and Treacy Hogan report that local authorities are facing a “€4bn funding black hole”.
The pair have seen reports that show councils have had to borrow €4.35bn money to build needed projects such as water treatment plants and roads, that there are millions owed to councils in unpaid commercial water charges and rates and that three motorways which opened last year overran their budget by €70m.
A report from the government-ordered Local Government Efficiency Review Group was published in July of last year and identified around €500m that could be made in local government savings. The group recommended such revenue-creating measures as the introduction of a property tax, domestic water charges and so on.
Paul Melia suggests that the shortfall facing the local councils “is the elephant in the room that none of the political parties are talking about”, because the recommendations in the above report would involve slashing numbers of local government posts and new taxes.
The gradual deterioration of local services will surely be of interest to a website like www.potholes.ie which has been taking in reports of potholed roads around the country, bringing them to the attention of local councils. As of today, they had reported 996 problems to local authorities, had 159 of those fixed – but 837 are still outstanding.