Dev. Cllrs Give Green Light to 58m Civic Offices Plan
Sun 9 May 2004
Having secured a deal with Naas Town Council last week to purchase the seven-acre former Devoy Barracks site for 2.75 million, councillors voted on Monday by 16 to six to press on with plans for the new offices.
They voted to approve the construction of the new offices at a cost not exceeding 58.5m and the raising of a 45m-loan payable over a 40-year period.
They also approved the disposal of county council-owned premises in Basin Street in Naas as part of the deal negotiated with Naas Town Council.
A third element to the deal fixes the contribution Naas Town Council pay towards the construction costs of the project for the office space they will take up at 4.2m.
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael backed the project in the council, though Deputy Sean Power, who expressed his opposition last week, was absent. Deputy Sean O'Fearghail, who proposed the project, said, what Kildare was proposing to do fit in with what other local authorities were doing around the country.
Do we want a building that fits in with Kildare, the Thoroughbred County?
Cllr Rainsford Hendy said he still thought the project was the right move to make.
We must act responsibly and make this building and grounds available to the hospital, he said..
PD Cllr Timmy Conway, who is also the Mayor of Naas and chairman of the town council, voted in favour. He said the new agreement was fair and reasonable.
He welcomed the transfer of the offices in Basin Street in Naas, saying the price to Naas Town Council is worth a hell of a lot more than you could actually put down in figures.
Cllr Conway said last week that he would not support the plans as they stood last week when only 1m was on the table from the county council for the Devoy Barracks site.
PD Senator Kate Walsh also voted in favour.
However, PD Senator John Dardis opposed the proposal and said, this is probably one of the most important decisions I have made since I came in here .
Senator Dardis questioned the way the deal was being sold by the council officials and said that estimates he had received about what the Devoy Barracks site was worth had been around 5m at least. He also questioned how a value of 7.6m was attached to the site at St Mary s, while the Devoy Barracks site was being sold for 2.75m.
He added that we are dealing with public money and we deserve answers.
I just wonder what professional expertise we used to value that site, he said...
Labour also opposed the plan. Deputy Jack Wall questioned why a comparative costing for redeveloping the current council offices, which was put at 56.5m, included the 7.6m figure for loss of revenue from sale of St Mary s to the health board.
Can someone tell me what logic there is in including a figure that was never going to be included in the total cost, he said..
Deputy Emmet Stagg, also of Labour, said he didnt t believe that 1% of the population of the county over a 10 year period would use the offices. He added that he wanted to put across that the amount of money it would cost the council to build the new offices wasnt t the capital cost but 80m paid out over a 40-year period.
This cost is so high that I don t think it can be justified in the face of services being cut, he said.. He added that less discretionary spending would reduce the power of councillors to make decisions about services.
Also opposed to the project was Independent Cllr Tony McEvoy who said he had apprehensions about the figures the officials had produced and that he would find it irresponsible to be voting for this proposal.