Increase in fire brigade fund sparks a now annual debate
FINGAL’S budgeted contribution to the Dublin Fire Brigade will rise by half a million euro in 2018, sparking a now annual debate on the rising costs of the service to the county.
The budget for the year ahead in terms of Fingal County Council’s contribution to the service is close to €20 million and the increase is largely down to the restoration of certain public service allowances.
The council’s finance director explained the rise was to be much larger but after ‘detailed discussions’ between the Dublin local authorities who co-fund the service and central Government, the Government agreed to contribute more of exchequer funding to the service.
Cllr Kieran Dennison (FG) said there was an ‘annual head scratching exercise’ among councillors over the ‘ever-increasing’ costs of the fire service.
Cllr David O’connor (NP) agreed and said this was the ‘mystery of the Dublin Fire Brigade budget and why it keeps increasing ever year’.
Cllr Matthew Waine (Sol) accused councillors questioning the funding of ‘penny pinching’ and said the fire service were ‘front-line public servants who suffered enough during the years of austerity’.
Cllr Duncan Smith (Lab) also defended the funding of the service saying he was proud to support the budget for the service.
Cllr Jimmy Guerin (NP) and Cllr Anne Devitt (NP) said that challenging the cost of the service did not mean councillors did not support it but Cllr Malachy Quinn (SF) said if the question is if the service is value for money, then he believes it is.
Chief executive of Fingal County Council, Paul Reid acknowledged that the service was an ‘ongoing rise in cost’ but he said the first estimates of the what the service would cost the council for the year ahead were a ‘significant increase on what you see today’.
He argued that while the amount represented an increase on the figure budgeted in 2017, it was less than the final figure actually spent on the service this year. with that said, the chief executive said the council continued to press for ‘reforms’ in the service.
Cllr David O’connor.