Thursday, 2 May 1974
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: asked the Minister for Local Government the unexpended balance on Road Fund  grants in respect of 1973-74; whether the balance will be re-allocated to County Cork in the present transitional financial period; and the portion that has been transferred to other counties, the names of the counties and the date of transfer.
Mr. Meaney: asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware that the Road Fund grants allocated to Cork County Council for this year will result in less output of work as the increase of 6 per cent will fall approximately 15 per cent behind rising costs; and if he will immediately raise the grants at least to allow the council to maintain the roads in a fair condition.
Payments to Cork County Council in 1973-74 were £1.122 million, approximately £226,000 less than the total allocation of £1.348 million. The total grant allocation for the council for the nine-months' period April/December, 1974, is £1,106,220, equivalent to approximately £1.475 million on a 12-months' basis compared with the total payment of £1.122 in 1973-74. This allows for a substantial increase in the rate of expenditure in the current year. The needs of road authorities are reassessed at the beginning of each year having regard to progress anticipated. It is not the practice to make transfers of unused balances on a prior year's allocations.
Mr. Tully: No There was approximately £226,000 less than the total allocation expended last year, but each year the council notify the Department of the amount of money with which they believe they will be able to carry out a programme of work. It is on that basis that the money is paid. I think what is uppermost in the Deputy's mind is that the money will be permanently lost unless it is formally reallocated in the following year. That is not so.
Mr. Tully: That is a matter for Cork County Council. If they were able to spend this extra money they would have said so but in fact they have indicated the amount of money which they felt they would be able to spend and it is on that basis the allocation has been given.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The county secretary informed us that the council had informed the Department that they could spend this year's grant and the unexpended surplus from last year during this nine-month financial year.
Mr. Tully: That is not the information that I have given to the Deputy which is the information given to me. It is that the allocation has been made on the basis of the amount of money they would be able to spend. I do not think that Deputy Meaney, being a reasonable man, would suggest that there could be an extra £226,000 if the planning for it had not been prepared.
Mr. Tully: All money which is unexpended is reallocated from the general fund in the following year. The grants are not paid as the Deputy knows, until the end of the year. I may add something that may be a grain of comfort to the Deputies. Cork County Council's problem is to find out how quickly they can catch up on their planned road programme which was delayed. The prospects for this year are not clear but there are continuing land acquisition problems in respect of the provision of the Cork-Bandon road and the Ringaskiddy road. The £1,106,220 for the nine-month period is equivalent to £1,474,000 for a 12-month period. It appears that Cork County Council, because they cannot spend money which they had decided they would spend on the acquisition of land, will have a substantial amount of money which they will be spending or which they may have transferred—it will not be taken back from them—for this actual work. I can assure the Deputy he need have no worry about Cork County Council having an inadequate supply of money for this year.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: There is some confusion. The Minister said that £226,000 unexpended money cannot be reallocated. He then goes on to say that money that has not been spent on land acquisition and will not be spent —this is the £1,100,000—this year——
Mr. Tully: No. I have stated twice, and now state a third time, that the money is not reallocated during the year. The money is not paid until the end of the year. It would not be possible to reallocate money if the Department did not know whether it was going to be spent or not.
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