Clare Champion, Friday, December 19, 2003
Budgetary concerns could force Ennis Town Council to review its position on funding for one of its flagship projects. In his annual budget report, Ennis town manager Tom Coughlan said that the Clare County Museum project “will be examined early in 2004” in the context of value for money for Ennis Town Council and a report will be brought to the members with proposals during the year”.
However, the council has agreed to allocate €267,000 to the Clare County Museum next year, a large increase on the €237,000 that was allocated to the centre in 2003.
The concern follows the revelation that Ennis Town Council’s funding for two of its top tourism projects, Glór Irish Music Centre and the Clare County Museum went overbudget by 54% in 2003. According to the council’s budget for 2004, figures show that the local authority has contributed a total of €639,000 to the two operations this year. This is €224,000 more than was anticipated when the council was drawing up its budget for 2003.
Along with Clare County Council, Ennis Town Council is the main benefactor of the two centres that were established to attract additional tourists to the county town, while also acting as community resources.
Figures supplied to the elected members show that this year, the Clare County Museum received €237,000 from Ennis Town Council. This is €67,000 more than was budgeted for last year. The figures also show that Ennis Town council has contributed €402,000 to Glór while it had budgeted for €245,000. Glór’s own accounts showed that last year, the centre recorded a loss of €239,000 before subventions from the county and town councils are taken into account.
In his report, town mananger, Tom Coughlan said that Glór had a very successful year in 2003. Over 53,000 visited the centre this year – this is an increase of 35% on the 39,000 visitors to the centre in 2002.
In relation to Glór, €284,000 is to be allocated by the council next year – up €39,000 on the intended allocation for this year, but down €18,000 on the actual amount to the centre received this year.
As to Glór, Mr Coughlan said it was used by many distinguished guests in 2003, including President Mary Mc Aleese and the Special Olympic visitors to Ennis. Mr Coughlan added, “The facility has also been used by the public bodies including Ennis Town Council, Shannon Development and Clare County Council for meetings, presentations, training and community events”.
Elsewhere in the report, Mr Coughlan pointed out that the upgrading of the Tim Smyth Park has been completed, while grant assistance for the further development of the Lees Road facility is being sought and a loan application has been lodged to fund the completed works and the outstanding balance.
Underlining the council’s efforts to recapture the Tidy Towns title, the allocation to the relevant committee for next year has been increased by €5,000 to €18,000.