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City Council agrees to increased €160m budget

Friday, 10th November, 2017 10:04am

There's been a mixed reaction to Cork City Council last night agreeing a €160.24 million budget for next year, an increase of €7.623 million on this year. It was also announced that Tramore Valley Park is to be opened.

As for the budget, there will be no increase in rates, property tax or car parking costs in the city in 2018 as additional expenditure will be funded from a more buoyant rates base due to improved economic activity in the city, rental income and additional departmental grants.  

Cork Chamber of Commerce welcomed this saying that it follows engagement between the Chamber and Cork City Council earlier this year highlighting how the impact of increased rates and parking fees has made it more difficult for some local business to remain active in the city core. 

Thomas McHugh, Director of Policy & External Affairs at Cork Chamber, said: “We are glad to see the adoption of a budget which will not incur any additional cost on those doing business in Cork city. Already, businesses in Cork contribute 42 per cent of all income for Cork City Council and we want to see this burden reduced as soon as finances allows.”

However, with central Government funding steadily decreasing in recent years, Mr McHugh said that the time has come for a full overhaul of local authority funding. He said: “It is neither equitable nor sustainable to over depend on businesses as the primary funders of local government, which unfortunately is the pattern reported by chambers across the country.”

Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald welcomed the broad cross-party support for the budget and welcomed the continued focus on increasing and improving social housing.

He said: “There will be a continued focus on returning vacant homes back into availability for people on the social housing list next year with these repairs 50 per cent grant aid funded and 50 per cent from the council’s own revenues. 

“The housing directorate is also seeking a €11 million grant from the Housing Finance Agency to carry out badly needed housing maintenance,” he added. 

Cork City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty said the budget provides a “reasonable balance across the competing objectives of developing the social, cultural, economic, environmental and infrastructural needs of the city in a socially inclusive manner”.

The Council will spend its additional funds on homelessness, social inclusion projects, roads and payroll increases due under the last public service pay agreement.

Up to €46.57 million will be spent on housing next year, another €26.7 million on roads, €32.5 million on environmental services and €22 million on recreation and amenity services.

Labour Party local area representative Peter Horgan described the budget as “benign”. “It also lacks vision and ambition,” said Mr Horgan.

He continued: “This Budget was an opportunity to send a message to the people of Cork city and county that this Council had a vision to really make a difference in the lives of its residents and residents to be in whatever new boundary is decided. Instead we have piecemeal measures that will try and appease everyone but have little to no impact.”

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