by Paul O’Malley
Councillors in Mayo have reached an agreement with Mayo County Council to allow General Municipal Allowance (GMA) funding to proceed as planned after concerns arose that spending may have to be curtailed due to cash flow losses stemming from the impact of Covid-19.
GMA is funding that is used to provide grants to community groups and projects and is adopted from projected incomes when the Council’s budget is set. The allocation of the grants is at the discretion of councillors.
Elected representatives were concerned after councillors in the Westport and Belmullet area were told that GMA allocations have been “paused” at a municipal meeting last week by Director of Services Catherine McConnell, as projected income had been “decimated” with the council set to lose up to €1.5 million a month in incoming revenue.
An agreement was reached at a meeting last Thursday between Interim CEO and Director of Finance for Mayo County Council Peter Duggan and Cllrs Brendan Mulroy, Damien Ryan and Michael Kilcoyne, which will see GMA allocations proceeding as planned. Under the agreement, half of all allocations are expected to be paid by the end of July, a quarter by the end of September and the rest by the end of November.
Councillors will be asked to prioritise the grants they want paid first when sending in the GMA application forms. Groups who sought grants for events that did not proceed as planned, such as St Patricks Day parades, but who already spent money in anticipation of the events going ahead should expect payment in the last phase.
Cllr Kilcoyne said it was vital to community groups that this issue was dealt with swiftly.
“In practice, it’s not much of a change from how it was as most of the monies were never paid out before July or August anyways but we roped this in fairly fast.
“As far as we’re concerned the budget is approved by the members and nobody can change the budget without the agreement of all sides. Now it is up to each district to make their allocations.”