Fermoy receives €135,000 bail-out
CORK County Council will give Fermoy a €135,000 bail-out for 2014 - provided the hard-pressed town council does not attempt to use the windfall to cut rates, rents or parking charges.
Fermoy Town Council pays the county council a County Charge of €395,000 a year for providing services, including the fire brigade and library. However, this fee has been cut to €260,000 for 2014 to help the cash-strapped town council balance its books.
The Corkman understands that town councillors failed to agree on a budget at a pre-budget meeting last week, which was closed to the press.
As a result, Liz Barry, head of finance with Cork County Council, met with councillors at a second pre-budget meeting last Wednesday night, January 8.
The meeting, which took place after this newspaper went to press, is understood to have been arranged to impress upon councillors the difficulties facing Fermoy Town Council due to its perilous finances.
A councillor present at the first pre-budget meeting told The Corkman that some councillors wanted to abolish off-street parking charges, which would cost the council some €170,000 in revenue.
The same councillors were said to be unwilling to make up this shortfall elsewhere in the budget.
The matter has been complicated by the fact that the budget adopted by Fermoy town councillors will run for 2014 in its entirety - despite the looming abolition of the council in May.
In his report, sent to councillors this week ahead of next Tuesday's budget meeting, Niall Healy, Fermoy Town Manager, warned councillors that their final budget will have long term implications for the town.
'Any cuts to income and/or expenditure will need to be carefully considered and reviewed as these cuts will impact directly on the range and quality of services delivered to the people of Fermoy over the coming 12 month period, regardless of whether or not Fermoy Town Council continues to exist,' said Mr Healy.
'The Fermoy Town Council Budget for 2014 will constitute the budget for the Fermoy Town area of the Municipal District from June 2014, and the income and expenditure provisions adopted in this Budget will shape the range/quality of services which the Municipal District will be capable of delivering in the future. It is therefore important that any decisions are taken for the greater good and with the long term perspective in mind,' he added.
He also said that the cut in the County Charge was granted specifically to help balance Fermoy's books, and that it was given on condition that 'income sources would, at a minimum, be maintained at their current levels, and that there would be no reduction applied to income sources for 2014'.