Council €4.5m funding shortfall as result of Covid-19 pandemic

Meath County Council services are facing an estimated €4.5million funding shortfall due to a dramatic fall in rates and parking charges income.

The stark news comes as the Government announced its five-level plan for ‘Living with Covid-19’ over the next six months.

The dramatic loss of council income, due to the global pandemic, was outlined to Oireachtas members from Meath at a briefing by the council executive yesterday (Monday).

Council services will be impacted by the shortfall but which services will be affected won't be known until the council budget is adopted in November. Deputy Darren O'Rourke said the council had been proactive and aggressive in their roll out of supports to businesses and had taken the medium to large term view of keeping businesses viable.

“The shortfall raises questions about the council’s capital programme and works they have committed to,” he said,

He was pleased to see that the council considered the Slane bypass and the Navan rail line as top priorities for the county.

Senator Shane Cassells said the financial message was stark, but that the financial incentives being pumped into businesses were making a positive impact.

“The impact on the county was laid out pretty starkly. A hole of some €4.5m exists and the unknown of how businesses recover into the future is a big challenge.

Projects...Shane Cassells

“Equally there has been some savage positive work being done in helping those same businesses with €13m paid in restart grants to 2,700 shops and companies across Meath.

“One of the big initiatives has been the introduction of ‘training on line vouchers’ - worth €2500 - for small companies who want to trade on line.

“This is to pay for web sites and commercial solutions and so far some 255 businesses have been awarded grants worth €609,000.”

On the Navan Rail line Senator Cassells told Council management that the review being started next month by the NTA needed to “deliver a positive result this time or the chance to build the rail will be lost forever.”

He also warned management that the NTA could not be allowed to use the current reduction in traffic movements on the roads as a reason to state that there’s is no need for a Rail line.

Meanwhile the framework for restrictive measures announced this morning (Tuesday) consists of five levels that can be in place in different counties depending on the levels of Covid-19 in each area.

Level 1 will mean the least severe of the restrictions with Level 5 the most serious.

Level 1 will allow up to 10 visitors from up to three households to visit your house. Up to 100 people will be able to attend weddings and up to 500 people will be able to attend outdoor venues with a minimum capacity of 5,000, with a maximum of 200 patrons allowed in most other outdoor venues.

Level 2 applies to the country at present, with some exceptions for Dublin. Visitors from one other household only, or up to six visitors from two to three other households are allowed in your home. Pubs that do not serve food can open and up to 200 people are allowed at outdoor stadia with a capacity of 5,000.

Level 3 will limit visitors to your home from one other household only (this has been introduced in Dublin). Weddings will be limited to 25 while outdoor gatherings will be capped at 15.

Level 4 restrictions will ban visitors to homes, weddings will be limited to six people and funerals will have a cap of 25. There will be no indoor dining allowed and pubs will only be allowed to serve 15 customers outdoors.

Level 5 will be similar to Level 4 but people will be advised to stay at home and only exercise within 5km of where they live, but schools and crèches can remain open with protective measures in place.

The new measures, apart from the reopening of the pubs, comes into effect from midnight, tonight.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced a €600million Winter Support Package to add capacity to hospitals and provide care at home.

Taoiseach, Micheal Martin said that he understands there has been “frustration from people in businesses in particular” but that, until there is a vaccine, “we must contin

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