Individual members of Shannon Municipal District will have access to €20,000 for their own projects in the community as a result of changes adopted this year.

Only three councillors attended the annual meeting to consider a draft budgetary plan for 2018. The three gave their unanimous support to a proposal taking back control of €120,000.

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provides for General Municipal Allocation (GMA) funding to be made available to municipal district councillors. Heretofore, councillors in Shannon have opted to allow the district engineer exclusive use of this funding.

Cllr Flynn said it’s time that councillors took control of the powers given them in the 2014 Act. His proposal, which was adopted, stipulated that the €264,100 allocation be divided as follows: €40,000 for a Community Grants Scheme; €104,100 discretionary fund for the senior engineer and €120,000 to be divided between elected members, giving each of the six councillors discretion over €20,000.

As part of the proposal, Cllr Flynn requested that the senior engineer adopt a partnership approach by providing matching funding for each councillor’s particular projects.

It is up to councillors to decide how their €20,000 is managed; whether it is handed back to the senior engineer or used for their own project is a matter for themselves. “For myself, I am looking for more autonomy and this is one way of getting it,” said Cllr Flynn.

Responding to the proposal, senior engineer Eugene O’Shea said he has always worked closely with councillors although they don’t always share the same priorities. Mr O’Shea said he will work with this as best he can, however, he was unsure whether he will be in a position to provide matching funding for these projects.

Meetings facilitator Liam Conneally said transparency and good governance requires that councillors must provide a list of projects to be scrutinised by the Municipal District as a body. All monies will be vouched for and receipted, said Mr Conneally, emphasising that each councillor’s control of €20,000 will not be an unaccounted expenditure.

Mr Conneally intimated that the proposed co-funding aspect will have to be discussed later. Eugene O’Shea agreed saying, “We can’t guarantee that.” In conclusion, Liam Conneally commented that he would like to see councillors working together on larger projects that will be of benefit to the community.