Savings have dried up and 2013 will be tougher
KERRY County Council has passed its budget for the coming year though county manager Tom Curran has warned that the Council's savings have dried up and next year's budget is likely to be considerably tougher.
Crucially, though the councils finances remain severely strained, commercial rates and water charges will not increase and will remain at the same level as this year with the commercial ARV for businesses to remain at €80.35.
At a special budget meeting on Monday councillors voted by a margin of 19-to-one, with seven absentees, in favour of a proposed expenditure programme of over €117 million for 2013. Sinn Fein Councillor Toireasa Ferris was the only member to vote against the financial plan.
The 2013 budget will see €30 million spent on roads, €24 million on water services, €17 million on housing and €16 million on environmental services.
In his budget report to councillors Kerry County Manager Tom Curran warned that while the council had managed to maintain its core services at or near current levels further difficult budgets were likely if the economy remains in recession adding that the availability of income for the council remains a "serious concern".
"During 2012 Kerry County Council continued to maintain delivery of its core services that are essential to the functioning of the county. this has played an essential role in the county demonstrating demonstrating resilience in facing the difficulties that the current economic climate presents. We are acutely aware of the impact of our services on everyday life of business and communities," he said.
Mr Curran told councillors that financial reserves of over €1.6 million were being used to fund various council work programmes in 2013 but warned that such funding would not be available to balance the budget in the future.
"Reserves from previous years of €1.68 million are being introduced to fund various programmes of works this year. This option will be severely restricted in the years ahead," he said.
"This draft budget represents a fifth year of contracting resources. Despite this every effort is being made by our staff to support the ongoing development of the Kerry economy," said Mr Curran.
"In the past year staff have been flexible in trying to ensure the maintenance of quality services with limited resources. The next year will be equally challenging and I look forward to the commitment of all to doing the best we can for the benefit of the county," he said.
Councillors were also told that the General Purpose Grant Allocation for Kerry from the state's Local Government fund had been reduced by 3.3 per cent for 2013 with the council to receive €18.37 million next year compared with €19 million in 2012.
The council will continue to invest in the county's infrastructure although at a much reduced level compared to recent years Mr Curran said.