County gets €113.8m to work with in 2009

Bray People - - News -

MEM­BERS and man­age­ment of Wick­low County Coun­cil sat late into Mon­day evening last week to thrash out the finer de­tails of the 2009 bud­get for the county.

A to­tal of €113.8m is the es­ti­mated amount which Wick­low County Coun­cil will have to spend in the com­ing year.

A ma­jor re­duc­tion in Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment fund­ing by €1.39m to €20.58m meant that a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ser­vices within Coun­cil de­part­ments would be re­duced or even cut.

With the in­evitable out­come that cer­tain ser­vices must face cut­backs, mem­bers were not will­ing to ac­cept the county man­ager’s pro­posed com­mer­cial rates in­crease of 4.9 per cent.

It was agreed that an in­crease of 1.9 per cent is as much as busi­nesses would be able to af­ford in the cur­rent eco­nomic cli­mate.

Coun­cil Cathaoir­leach Derek Mitchell told the Wick­low Peo­ple that ‘at time of poor trad­ing the Coun­cil could not ask busi­ness for such a tax in­crease’.

Cllr. Mitchell added that at a time when many in the pri­vate sec­tor are los­ing jobs and tak­ing pay re­duc­tions this could be achieved by sav­ing €500,000 in cen­tral over­heads and €40,000 in coun­cil­lor train­ing.

‘I am happy to ac­cept the salary of the Cathaoir­leach bring frozen to set an ex­am­ple. Th­ese cuts al­low the rate re­duc­tion, €100,000 to keep Avoca Re­cy­cling Cen­tre open and al­lows and ex­tra €25,000 for li­brary books,’ he said.

Due to a Gov­ern­ment re­quire­ment, Wick­low County Coun­cil will be ex­pected to cut staff lev­els by three per cent.

This will be ac­com­mo­dated by not fill­ing va­can­cies and by re­view­ing all con­tracts which are due to ex­pire in 2009.

Roads will see a dras­tic re­duc­tion in fund­ing in 2009 with the up­grade of the N11 from Barn­dar­rig to The Bee­hive off the agenda for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Coun­cil­lors voiced their dis­gust at this news adding that a pro­posed up­grade of the dual car­riage­way sec­tions to mo­tor­way could not pos­si­ble go ahead from a road safety as­pect.

‘Un­for­tu­nately the re­view of speed lim­its can­not be im­ple­mented as to put up new speed limit signs will cost €150k and this is not avail­able. I asked that the Kil­macanogue north­bound lane in­crease from 60 to 80 kph should go ahead and hope­fully it can,’ said Cllr. Mitchell.

En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices re­ceived un­fair treat­ment in the bud­get es­ti­mates with pro­pos­als to re­duce open­ing hours across the county at cen­tres and in some cases full clo­sure.

Mem­bers were united in the opin­ion that money could be re­aligned to al­low the Avoca cen­tre in par­tic­u­lar to stay open al­though open­ing hours will be re­duced.

De­spite con­cern from a num­ber of coun­cil mem­bers it was agreed that wa­ter rates will be in­creased by 24 per cent.

Ini­tial pro­pos­als to cut the €25,000 spon­sor­ship of Wick­low GAA were re­placed by an agree­ment to move €11,500 from Wick­low Up­lands in or­der to of­fer a cer­tain amount of sup­port to Gaelic Games in the county.

Coun­cil­lor Derek Mitchell.

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