Councils cut fund for roads upkeep
Contributions from local authorities towards the upkeep of local and regional roads is at an all-time low in some areas, with many preferring to spend road tax receipts on other areas.
Under a complicated system of funding the Department of Transport allocates money from motor tax receipts to each local authority, at least one third of which is ring-fenced as the “State grant” for the upkeep and maintenance of local roads.
Local authorities then add to the State grant from the remaining two-thirds of its road taxes allocation, or from other sources of funding such as parking charges, or subsidies from the Department of the Environment.
However, according to figures seen by The Irish Times, it is clear some local authorities are contributing significantly less of their own money than others. While many contributed half or more of the total cost of local and regional road works in 1994, contributions have fallen steadily and this year some are in single-figure percentages.
Cork County Council, which received €40 million as a State grant for 2013, put up just €8 million of its own resources, or 17 per cent of total funding. According to the figures the percentage contributed by the council towards its own local and regional road works have declined from 47 per cent in 1994, even through the years of the economic boom.
In contrast, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, which received just €4 million from the State in motor tax receipts, put up €11 million of its own resources, or 58 per cent of total funding for 2013. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown contributed 65 per cent in 1994.
Among councils seemingly reluctant to contribute more of the road tax fund or other “own resources” to the upkeep of their roads are: Donegal, whose contribution was just 16 per cent; Laois (11 per cent); Longford (15 per cent); Offaly (15 per cent); Roscommon (12 per cent) and Sligo (9 per cent).
Asked about the variations in contributions Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar acknowledged some local authorities seemed reluctant to spend more than the Government grant on roads for which, he said, the local authorities themselves “have primary responsibility”.