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Dublin braced for its toughest budget in 30 years as council seeks €35m more in cutbacks

DUBLINERS are to be hit with "the toughest budget in 30 years" as the city council plans to implement €35m in further cuts.

It is already formulating its budget for 2011 and it is shaping up to be even harder than this year's.

Council bosses reduced the city's almost €1bn spend by €30m between 2009 and last year.

However, the latest plans -- equating to a 4pc reduction -- are expected to be even more drastic.

Labour's Killian Forde, who is chair of the council's finance strategic policy committee (SPC), said cutbacks of "at least" €35m are to be imposed.

"We have to balance the budget which means we can't carry a deficit. It's going to be the toughest budget in 30 years," Mr Forde told the Herald.

He added that the main criteria will be to "protect public services".

The 2010 budget has led to the severe curtailment of road maintenance and housing repairs. The housing maintenance budget was cut by €3.1m.

At the time, the local authority revealed there would be "a reduction in the turnaround time" for void properties or vacated council homes.

"Direct labour work on voids was often carried out on Saturdays in the past but due to the restriction on overtime this work must now be incorporated into the regular week work programme," the council said.

In addition, the time-frame for carrying out regular repairs has increased. Maintenance staff now ensure that emergency repairs are given priority, with routine repairs being progressed as staff become available.

In estate management, the reduction in overtime and weekend work has reduced the capacity of the caretaking service to deal with additional clear-up work. The transport budget, slashed by €3.9m this year, was affected by a 10pc drop in parking meter revenue, leading to an estimated shortfall of €3m for the full year.

Imposed

A 50pc cut in overtime has meant a fall-off in the emergency out-of- hours' service for road works.

A radical reduction in the road maintenance contracted works programme has also been imposed.

"The contracted works provided for in the 2009 budget was €4,800,000 and this has been reduced to €800,000. The road maintenance direct labour programme will be maintained," officials said.

Budgets across all departments were affected by falling revenues, with cuts of €7.35m in environmental services and €4.94m in housing projects. Councillors are concerned that the measures planned for next year will further impact on people's daily lives.

comurphy@herald.ie


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