Big increase in council funds for districts
The elected members of Wicklow County Council have voted in favour of adopting the Local Authority Budget for 2018 which will include an increase in funding for all five Municipal Districts.
The €93 million budget is similar to last year, with most of the funding being non discretionary and close to a half going toward the Local Authority payroll.
In his concluding notes contained within the draft budget document, Wicklow County Council Chief Executive Frank Curran stated that Wicklow remained under-resourced compared to other counties.
'As I stated in the Local Property Tax (LPT) report in September, Wicklow's income from the general purpose grant did not compare favourably with other comparable local authorities. Our general purpose grant allocation for 2014 is now being used as our LPT baseline going forward.
'Comparing the 2017 annual budget figures, Wicklow spends less per person than the national average across all services. We have previously made submissions to central government to address this under-resourcing and I intend to raise the matter again with Department officials in the near future. However, we need to continually pursue this issue at both official level and also thorough our elected representatives.'
Last year Municipal Districts in Wicklow, Arklow, Baltinglass, Bray and Greystones had €900,000 to share between them. This year the figure has jumped to €1.9 million, with the majority going toward paths and public lighting.
Wicklow County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Edward Timmins, welcomed the large increase in discretionary funding for each district.
After the budget meeting he said: 'additionally the local areas will have a bigger say over how roads funding is spent. These decisions will still have to be based on how the roads are rated but we should still have a say. That, along with increased funding for the districts, are the two initiatives I looked for when I became Chairman. The Chief Executive, the Finance Director and the Roads Director have worked with us to help achieve these aims. The large support from Councillors in the budget vote is also welcome, with only three against.'