KERRY County Council have been granted a last-minute financial reprieve by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, after the number of people paying the household charge exceeded a government quota required to avoid punitive funding cuts.
The local authority was facing potential cuts of up to €1.2 million in the final quarter of this year arising form the failure or refusal of many homeowners in the county to pay the controversial household charge.
Much of the September meeting of Kerry County Council was dominated by discussions about the impending cuts and a number of projects planned to be carried out this year were deferred ahead of the expected cutbacks to ensure the council would be in a position to balance its annual budget.
At Monday's monthly meeting of Kerry County Council County Manager Tom Curran said new correspondence had since been received from the Department of the Environment indicating that as the number of people who had paid the household charge in the county had exceeded 71 per cent the authority would receive it's full agreed allocation of approximately €5 million for the final three months of the year.
Mr Curran said that Kerry had the third highest compliance rate in the country when it came to the controversial charge and the 72 per cent of homeowners in Kerry had now paid the charge.
He thanked those that paid the charge whom he said had helped ensure Kerry County Council could maintain its services.
He added that the deferred projects were now likely to be completed this year as planned.
A state funding cut of €417,043 imposed in the third quarter of the year when household tax compliance in the county was below 65 per cent remains in place and this money will not be provided.
Cllr Toireasa Ferris (SF), whose party opposed payment of the household charge, said the Department's apparent about face showed that Environment Minister Phil Hogan had been "bluffing all along" when he threatened to cut councils' funding if homeowners refused to pay the charge.
Cllr Ferris' comments came in spite of the fact that funding of over €417,043 was cut from the council's budget, none of which will be re-imbursed, as a direct result of Kerry homeowners' non compliance with the charge.
Cllr John Brassil (FF) said that if homeowners had followed the advice of the Sinn Féin party the council would indeed have suffered further cuts, possibly of up to €1.2 million, in the final three months of the year.