9 November 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Members of Cork County Council have voted by a substantial majority, 42 votes in favour with eight against, to adopt the Annual Budget 2016.
Not since 2008 have commercial rates levied by Cork County Council been increased and the adoption yesterday by Council of the Annual Budget for 2016 will ensure that all current county ratepayers will be charged commercial rates up to 2020 on the current annual rate of valuation (ARV) of 74.75.
Chief Executive, Mr. Tim Lucey, in his financial report to members of council said “this certainty on commercial rates in terms of costs to businesses is not likely to be matched by any other service or utility provider in the country for such an extended period of time.”
“This Budget continues a 5 year strategic approach agreed with Council as part of the 2015 Budget adoption,” he said.
The Five Year Rates Relief Scheme provision continues to be made and applicable to all businesses, but specifically targeted at small and medium businesses, providing a full 4% relief to 65% of businesses in the county for 2016.
The Council had already decided to vary the base rate of Local property tax for 2016 by 5% downwards. This decision has resulted in an improved position over 2015 when Council decided on a 10% reduction. The 5% reduction has enabled the preparation of a budget for 2016 based on a reduction in the reliance on revenue reserves and the capacity to allocate additional discretionary expenditure of €1.0m for 2016 into the following areas:
• Enhanced Public Space/Town Approaches/Roadside Maintenance Programme: – €600,000
• Disability works to Council Housing: – €250,000
• Municipal Districts Community Arts Programme: – €150,000
In addition, the 2016 Budget includes
• Support to Councils Local Community Development Committees: -, a provision is made of €500,000 towards supporting the Councils three LCDC’s in undertaking their role on community and rural development
• 1916-2016 Commemoration Programme: – In recognition of the extensive range of interest shown by communities across the county in the commemoration of 1916, a fund of €180,000 is provided to support activity in this area.
• Planned Housing Maintenance: – A specific additional provision is made of €500,000 towards an enhancement of planned maintenance works to our housing stock.
A three year capital programme is being prepared and provision has made for a continuation of a €1m footpath programme and a further €400,000 public lighting programme in 2016. Subject to funding, it is intended to continue with both of these two particular programmes over the remaining period of this Council which would see an investment of €5.0m in footpath renewal and improvement works and €2.0m towards our public lighting programme.
Cork County Council is a significant provider and supporter of economic development infrastructure, advice and a range of different supports. Provision is made for the continuation of the Economic Development Fund at level of €1.08m representing 1% of rates income with a heavy emphasis being placed on significantly enhancing Councils activity level in the promotion and marketing of the region as an economic development and tourism area.
Mayor of County Cork, Cllr John Paul O’Shea said “The Councils 8 Municipal Districts play an important role in the delivery of Council services and in the leadership of their municipal regions, particularly in town development following the dissolution of the 12 Town Councils. Establishment of the role of the Municipal Districts has been ongoing and this will continue into 2016. The commencement of the Local Area Plan process and the work associated with this over the next 18 months will be a significant factor in embedding our Municipal Districts within all communities in their areas.”