Cuts on the way as council cash reserves dry up

KERRY County Council's savings are drying up and by the end of next year its cash reserves will be too low for the council to balance its budget without significant cuts.

That's according to a briefing delivered to councillors ahead of next week's annual council budget meeting.

However, despite this pressure on its finances, Kerry County Council is not planning to increase its commercial rates or water charges in 2014.

Cuts in government allocations, coupled with reduced income from rates, rents and other sources of income since the onset of the recession have left Kerry County Council's finances in a precarious position. In its last three budgets, the council has been forced to dip into its cash reserves in order to balance the books without drastically cutting services across all departments.

During a pre budget meeting on December 4, Kerry County Council Head of Finance Angela McAllen told councillors that this is the last year in which there will be sufficient money in the council's capital reserves to balance the budget without cutbacks.

The mayor's report on the meeting stated that, "provisions will have to be provided from capital to balance the budget and this is the last year this funding will be available."

Councillors were also warned about a potential funding shortfall arising from the fact that the property tax, which is to fund local government, is only to be levied from next July. The meeting was warned that this could lead to potential cash flow problems in the first half of the year, before the new property tax system is up and running.

Councillors were also told that rates and water charges for Kerry County Council customers would not change next year but that there would be a reduction in the council's overall expenditure compared to 2012, with Ms McAllen telling councillors that balancing this year's budget had been "extremely difficult."

Kerry County Council is to begin it's Budget 2013 debate next Monday.