Borrow €40m for roads and paths

Borrow €40m for roads and paths
Resurfacing of Patrick Street. Picture Dan Linehan

CORK's former Lord Mayor is calling on the city council to revisit proposals for a multi-million euro loan to revitalise the city centre.

Cllr Des Cahill backed suggestions from city officials ahead of last year's budget to seek a €40 million loan for roads, footpaths and other streetscape works.

However, the proposal fell flat when no other elected member offered support.

Cork City Council was in a position to borrow significant sums at a low-interest rate, though the move proved unpopular as it would have required a set increase to the city's local property tax rate for the duration of the loan repayments.

Mr Cahill said "I would hope that people would reconsider their stance ahead of the next budget. It was not supported at all last year to the point that we didn't even propose it for a vote on the council floor.

"Every year that goes past leaves us twelve months beyond the date that we could have started these works. It could have already made a significant difference to the city."

If secured, the money would have been used to upgrade damaged and broken footpaths and roads, according to Mr Cahill. 

"It could work out to a difference of €1 per week in property tax for some people but it would allow us to actually get roads and footpaths fixed," he said.

The issue for many councillors at the time was that securing the loan required setting the local property tax rate for the duration of the loan.

The LPT rate is currently voted on each year, with councillors able to adapt to increase or decrease the income stream as it is needed.

Fianna Fáil's Seán Martin said this is still an issue for elected members.

"The problem is that the loan would have meant putting up the property tax by 15% for the duration of the loan, tying in future councils at that rate," he said.

However, Mr Martin said he would not be entirely against the idea of considering shorter loans to achieve the necessary public realm works.

"There is merit to looking at it at the start of a council term, say on a three or five year period," he said.

"But to have this council making a decision that impacts on councils for the next few decades wouldn't be appropriate. If something else came up in the meantime, we could be in trouble."

Officials from the city's finance department confirmed that no discussions regarding the loan have taken place this year.

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