Louth County Council (LCC) are set to spend a bonus of €385,000 on housing maintenance and disability access grants, after receiving the money unexpectedly from Irish Public Bodies Insurance
Chief Executive (CE) of LCC, Joan Martin, made the announcement at the July council meeting, saying that the funding boost was not accounted for in the original 2021 budget.
According to Mrs Martin, the company were in a position to pay out a 2nd premium credit to LCC, speculating that this was due to a lack of claims during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mrs Martin then proposed that the funding be spent on both housing maintenance costs for council houses, as well as disability access grants.
The move was warmly welcomed across the political spectrum, with councillors saying that the funding would be well spent on housing maintenance and disability access grants.
“€385,000 will go a long way,” said Independent Councillor Maeve Yore, who then proposed the CE’s motion. Sinn Féin’s Kevin Meenan seconded the proposal, with nobody expressing any disagreement.
Fianna Fáil councillor Conor Keelan said that the proposal was “very sensible” from the Chief Executive”, and that it had his support.
The Green Party’s Marianne Butler questioned if some of the funding could be used to help restore some of the “tricky” vacant properties owned by the council.
However, Paddy Donnelly, the Director of Housing and Community Services, told the meeting that funding from the 2021 Void’s Programme would bring back all current vacant houses by the end of the year, with two exceptions.
According to Mr Donnelly, the council are currently working towards securing additional funding to restore the two exceptions, as the money provided by the Void’s Programme is not enough to cover their repairs.
Currently, there are 115 houses that are being refurbished in Louth under the 2021 Voids Programme, with 49 of those currently in Louth.
Fianna Fáil councillor James Byrne queried the CE about whether some of the funding could be set aside to develop an app for service alerts in the Louth area, like water outages.
The CE responded that she didn’t know the cost or development time for an app, but that the development of an app may be possible within LCC’s yearly budget rather than using the extra funding.
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