€107m coun­cil bud­get passed for job projects

Wexford People - - NEWS - By DAVID LOOBY

WEX­FORD COUNTY COUN­CIL approved an over­all bud­get of €107m for next year – up €6m from 2017, with a view to stim­u­lat­ing the job mar­ket lo­cally.

The bud­get sees in­creased fund­ing for a num­ber of key ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing hous­ing and home­less­ness, road main­te­nance, eco­nomic and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment projects, li­brary and arts ser­vices. The in­creased spend­ing is to be funded pri­mar­ily from in­creased grants/ sub­si­dies, in­creased Lo­cal Prop­erty Tax, and a 3 per cent in­crease in com­mer­cial rates.

The 2018 Bud­get sees the com­ple­tion of the Rates Har­mon­i­sa­tion Process, which was in­tro­duced fol­low­ing the abo­li­tion of town coun­cils in 2014.

The An­nual Rate on Val­u­a­tion (ARV) in the towns of New Ross and En­nis­cor­thy has been raised to match the rate ap­ply­ing in the re­main­der of the county, cre­at­ing a sin­gle An­nual Rate on Val­u­a­tion (ARV) across the en­tire county. A Spe­cial Rates In­cen­tive Scheme has been in­tro­duced in both former town rat­ing ar­eas, to ac­knowl­edge and as­sist ratepay­ers in these ar­eas with the im­pact of the har­mon­i­sa­tion move­ment.

The coun­cil also re­duced the rates re­lief avail­able in re­spect of va­cant com­mer­cial prop­er­ties from the cur­rent rate of 100 per cent to 90 per cent.

In pre­sent­ing the 2018 Draft Bud­get, which he de­scribed as am­bi­tious and de­vel­op­ment-fo­cussed, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Tom En­right out­lined the coun­cil’s plans to grow the county’s econ­omy and cre­ate ad­di­tional job op­por­tu­ni­ties over the next five years.

Mr En­right em­pha­sised the ring-fenc­ing of €2.2m, fi­nanced by in­creases in Lo­cal Prop­erty Tax and rates, for the de­liv­ery of eco­nomic, so­cial and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment within the county and pointed to fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for Wex­ford as ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects, in­clud­ing the New Ross and En­nis­cor­thy by­passes, nat­u­ral gas network and fi­bre broad­band im­prove­ments to come on stream.

Dur­ing the four-hour de­bate, Head of Finance An­nette O’Neill, to­gether with senior coun­cil officials, re­sponded to queries from the mem­bers on a range of is­sues, in­clud­ing Early Pay­ment Dis­count for com­mer­cial rates, fund­ing of county roads and pub­lic light­ing, hous­ing main­te­nance, fund­ing of lo­cal fes­ti­vals and com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties, un­fin­ished hous­ing es­tates, lit­ter man­age­ment, li­brary and arts ser­vices, and emer­gency ser­vices.

The 2018 Bud­get also pro­vides for in­creased fund­ing of €30,000 for each of the county’s four mu­nic­i­pal dis­tricts as a re­sponse to in­creased de­mands for sup­port from the re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties of these ar­eas. The mem­bers were also ad­vised that some ad­di­tional in­come was an­tic­i­pated as the pace and ex­tent of plan­ning ac­tiv­ity in County Wex­ford con­tin­ues to im­prove.

It was agreed at the Bud­get 2018 meet­ing that the lo­cal author­ity will, over the com­ing weeks, pub­lish de­tails of the its ex­ten­sive range of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and com­mu­nity projects which are to be funded and de­liv­ered over the next num­ber of years through­out the county.

Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing, Cathaoir­leach John He­garty paid trib­ute to his fel­low coun­cil­lors for their sup­port of the var­i­ous pro­vi­sions set out 100page com­pre­hen­sive bud­get doc­u­ment. ‘This is an am­bi­tious bud­get, de­signed to de­liver an am­bi­tious pro­gramme of ser­vices,’ Coun­cil­lor He­garty said. ‘The de­ci­sions taken today by the coun­cil were not easy to make, but they are ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary if we are take ad­van­tage of the many ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that are now emerg­ing; op­por­tu­ni­ties that when taken will al­low our econ­omy to fur­ther grow and pros­per into the fu­ture, en­sur­ing that County Wex­ford con­tin­ues to be a great place to live, work and visit.’

Tom En­right, chief ex­ec­u­tive: five-year plan for growth.

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