What is the Chamber doing about the Merger of the Councils??
It is the hope of Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber that the proposed merger of the Town, City and County Councils will bring about renewed energy and a vision for prosperity for Dungarvan, West Waterford and the county as a whole. However we (The Chamber) still have acute concerns around the areas of rates, municipal structures and the future organizational structures (the people) that will run the town and West Waterford and where they will be housed. As a result the Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber requested a meeting with Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, and as yet have not received a positive reply. From there a Chamber delegation met with John Deasy TD to discuss our issues and John assisted us in setting up a meeting with Sean Alyward who is the Head of the Implementation Committee.
From this meeting the Chamber was referred to and have contacted Gerry Kearney Chairperson of The Boundary Commission, insisting that Dungarvan as the urban centre along with its wider hinterland be given status as the main Municipal District outside Waterford City.
We are also contacting Colm Lavery Principal Officer with responsibility for Local Government Finance (Rates) who has also been written to by Chambers Ireland, requesting a ‘Transition Arrangement’ (an agreement to keep rates as they are for a number of years).
All of these points have since been raised in a constructive meeting with Ciara Conway on Monday 25th March who is following up on our behalf regarding each of these issues and helped us with our understanding of how this could all pan out going forward.
The outcomes from meeting Sean Aylward and his colleague from the Implementation Committee was that they would include the following recommendations in their report:
1. Tenders have been sought to complete a feasibility study of the Waterford City and County to make recommendations to the implementation committee regarding the merger. We understand that as part of this study the Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber of Commerce will be contacted to give their views on how the merger needs to be handled for continued economic progress and to protect the commercial life givers of Dungarvan and its wider hinterland.
2. The implementation committee will include in their report that Dungarvan as the County Town will be given a “go to person” who is a senior manager within the new structure, is known to the town, located in the civic offices in Dungarvan, and who is in control of the budget for the district and the activities which are currently important in our yearly calendar of events – i.e Sean Kelly race, Food Festival etc. It was suggested that the activities of this position be similar to the current positions of Town Clerk currently held by Joe Flaherty and the and Town Engineer and that both of these positions are located in Dungarvan.
3. The Economic development of the Dungarvan municipal district will include two development officer positions as is the case right now, and these positions will be based in Dungarvan. We understand from the meeting that it will be their remit to support the historic activities as well as shape the future development of the district.
4. Council meetings will be held in both the city and the Dungarvan municipal district
5. In order to represent sectorial interests –Representatives from the Dungarvan Municipal District will be represented on the future Economic Development SPC
It is our hope therefore that our possible creative solutions be applied in this merger situation so that County Towns – where operating efficiently are invigorated rather stifled when merged into a larger entity, and that you will be in support of our submission.
Our Suggestions include:
1. Applying the lowest rate base of the county as adopted in other mergers using Dungarvan’s rate base across the county
2. Retain Dungarvan Town Council as a test case within the amalgamation programme, as this is currently an efficient and financially transparent and accountable entity.
We will continue to seek out the decision makers and ensure we are being considered equally and fairly in this process. We hope you will support our actions and endeavors to safeguard our area from possible negative financial, social and corporate impositions