A number of Local Property Tax (LPT) discretionary grants were allocated in the Kildare Newbridge Municipal District but were not approved by members at a statutory committee meeting, it has been revealed.
These included €14,000 in discretionary funds spent on Sensational Kids vouchers to a number of local schools by Cllr Fiona Mc Loughlin Healy and €4,500 by Cllr Suzanne Doyle on three projects: €1,500 to Redhills Park, €2,000 to Kildare LEA and €1,000 to Suncroft Community Centre.
A motion was tabled at this month’s Municipal District meeting by Mayor Mark Stafford asking that the council provide a report on the 2019 Local Property Tax (LPT) grants that were allocated in the district but were not approved by members at a statutory meeting and recorded in the minutes.
The meeting heard that on January 16, 2019, the LPT allocations was approved by the members. As part of the allocation, a total of €135,000 was set aside for discretionary community grants with €15,000 to be assigned to each councillor for discretionary community related expenditure. “It was a matter for each member to decide how his/her discretionary amount was allocated, subject to it being community related,” said KCC Director of Services, Joe Boland.
He said the correct procedure was that each individual allocation should have been approved by the Municipal District by resolution.
However, he explained that “this may not have been fully understood by some staff and some members and, accordingly, a number of grants were paid directly following requests from individual members on the basis that these were ‘community-related’.”
Cllr Suzanne Doyle acknowledged her mistake, saying it was “100 per cent an oversight” and apologised for it. Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy, who is a former board member of Sensational Kids, said at the meeting that her allowance of €15,000 had been already agreed and she did not think there was anything further needed do be done.
Joe Boland then added that the ‘discretionary’ allocations have generally proven to be problematic over the years for a range of reasons. He noted guidelines are now in place to prevent such issues arising again.