Castlebar Municipal District had to return more than €30,000 in funding after they failed to spend it in time.
The District received €36,000 to go towards the provision of new casual trading areas in the town. However, delays in appointing a contractor meant that the project was not completed in time and the money had to be returned to the Department. The District sought an extension in September but their request was rejected, Head of Castlebar Muncipal District, Iarla Moran, told councillors at their January meeting.
Councillors said that that the council’s tender process for the appointment of contractors needs to be reviewed. “This shows that we do not have enough staff to do the work ourselves,” said Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne. “Then there are so few contractors on the tender list that are interested in doing the work,” Cllr Kilcoyne added.
Mr Moran confirmed that Castlebar Municipal District projects were not impacted by the €1.2 million in State grants that Mayo County Council was forced to return following an internal audit.
The council had been awarded significant funding for tourism and amenity projects as part of a fund to support outdoor recreation by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The audit carried out by the Department found that there were a total of 10 projects that received funding under the Outdoor Recreation Scheme that failed to comply with drawdown guidelines.
Mayo County Council WAS sanctioned after it was discovered that the local authority drew down funds despite not progressing and in some cases not starting a number of projects in the county.
Some Castlebar councillors said the matter should now be consider closed and expressed concerns that council staff will now be too nervous to process funding applications.
“My fear is that officers of Mayo County Council will be afraid to apply for projects,” said Fine Gael’s Cyril Burke.
Fianna Fáil’s Al McDonnell contended that the council’s actions are common practice across many local authorities. “We were unlucky because we had an audit,” added Cllr Burke.