Harshest cutbacks for ‘many years’
ELECTED members of Wicklow County Council and management staff were still in discussions over the 2009 Annual Budget which has been described as containing the most dramatic and harsh cutbacks for many years.
In a lengthy meeting last week, one thing that all councillors and management agreed on is that there is simply not enough money to go around.
It was when it came to where specific cut backs would be made that tensions flared.
A total figure of €113.8m has been estimated by the County Manager Eddie Sheehy for expenditure on 2009 which includes a €20.5m Local Government Fund grant which is decreased by 6.33 per cent compared with 2008.
Issues which are expected to impact largely on the Council’s expenditure in the coming year include rising energy charges such as gas which increased recently by 20 per cent and electricity which jumped by 17.5 per cent in August.
In his report Mr. Sheehy urged councillors to accept his proposal for a commercial rates increase of 4.9 per cent.
Staffing levels within the council itself face a three per cent cut with members informed that many vacancies will now not be filled and contracts will be reassessed upon expiry.
It is expected that due to a sharp decrease in property development a total of €125,000 from planning levies will be lost while library funding is proposed to be reduced by €83,000.
Members voiced concerns about various issues including recycling cutbacks, job losses and repairs for elderly Council tenants.
County Manager Eddie Sheehy.