The Roscommon Herald has reported that members of Roscommon County Council have given their approval to the development of the new civic offices at an estimated cost of €18 million.
Despite some opposition to the plans in recent weeks, the majority of members lent their support to the multimil-lion euro proposals at Monday’s monthly council meeting.
All members were in attendance for the crucial vote and the final vote of 21 for and five against ended weeks of speculation as to whether the council should proceed with the proposals.
Councillors Martin Connaughton, Rachel Doherty, Michael Mulligan, Jimmy Cogan and John Murphy voted against the plans.
The two and half hour discussion on the Part 8 decision touched on several issues, many of which had been raised in recent weeks, from the council’s finances, to rate payers, to the interest rate on the anticipated loan of €18 million.
The Roscommon Herald went on to state that, Cllr Mulligan said that the project had the “hallmarks of becoming a Bertie Bowl”, Cllr Doherty said it would be “premature” to make a decision ahead of An Bord Pleanala deciding on whether an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was required, while others expressed concerns about whether the council could afford the new offices.
“The last thing we need is more buildings and more borrowing and that’s what these plans will bring,” Cllr John Murphy said.
County Manager Frank Dawson, however, said that the new offices would bring greater efficiencies and savings in the long run and represented an “investment in the future”.
The council has negotiated a loan of up to €22 million with the Housing Finance Agency over a period of 40 years for the new building with estimates that it may come in at less than €18 million when tenders go out. The loan will attract a variable interest rate, which currently remains at around two percent.
Mr Dawson also hit out at some of the “unfounded assertions” aired by opposition campaigners in recent weeks and refuted claims that the council was heavily in debt.
“Citizens and concerned citizens are entitled to object and express their opinion but they are not entitled to smear the financial reputation of this council,” he said, adding that the council’s finances were “in good standing”.
It also emerged at the meeting that An Bord Pleanala was set to decide on whether the plans will require the council to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement. Source: Roscommon Herald