17 November 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
“There will be no reduction of core services in Cork city as a result of the budget adopted by the City Council this week”, its Chief Executive, Ann Doherty, has stated.
“This Budget approved by Council will have no adverse impact on services for those who live, work or visit the city, notwithstanding the more challenging financial environment in which the Council has to operate.”
Commenting on the Budget which includes a rates increase of 1.25%, the first increase in eight years, the chief executive said Council had been doing everything in its power to mitigate difficulties felt by businesses in recent years.
“The Council managed not to increase commercial rates for that period by achieving considerable cost savings and by reducing its own revenue reserves. In the past seven years, the Council has reduced staff numbers by approximately 25% , cut other costs and made service delivery more efficient. “
There was a shortfall of €1.6 million in the 2017 Estimate brought about by externally imposed changes including road funding and a reduced rates contribution from public utility companies.
“Council found itself with no easy means of bridging the funding gap except by a modest increase in rates, a number of budgetary reductions and some parking fee increases.”
“In order to reduce the impact of the rates increase, we will be bringing forward a rates incentive scheme which is aimed at the small and medium business, the detail of which will be announced in the coming weeks,” Ms Doherty added.
The Chief Executive expressed confidence that the development momentum achieved in the city in recent years would be maintained. “The city has made great strides in recent times. New developments in the city centre, on Albert Quay and other developments underway or proposed at the Capitol Cinema site, Andersons Quay, Albert Quay, Horgans’s Quay, South Terrace, Pairc Ui Chaoimh , the Event Centre and at the Apple Corporation site make a strong, confident statement about the City. There is no risk to that dynamic and there will be no de-prioritisation of economic development targets and activities. This commitment is underlined by continued investment in public infrastructure including an increased roads budget for next year.”
Ms Doherty said that Cork City Council has long been a champion of arts, culture and tourism as economic drivers for the city and the region, a commitment that continues will a spend with a spend of €3.8 million in 2017.
“Housing is the single most urgent priority for Government and the increase in the 2017 housing capital programme of €82 million to €124 million reflects our City’s commitment to playing its part in delivering on this key objective,” she added.
“Cork City Council will continue to work closely with businesses and all other stakeholders to ensure that the city continues to prosper by availing of the opportunities presented by economic recovery,” Ms Doherty said.