Fingal County Council to pay €6m to consultants next year

by Sylvia Pownall

Fingal County Council will pay in excess of €6 million for consultants’ services and external “expert advice” next year.

The local authority passed the figure at its budget meeting, where staff wages of €23 million, salaries totalling €43 million, and €13 million in pensions were also agreed.

Councillors adopted a revenue budget of €269 million for 2020 to provide services and investment – an increase of more than 10% on this year’s spend.

Querying consultants’ fees, Cllr Jimmy Guerin (Ind) said: “We employed consultants at great expense to look at the feasibility of reintroducing the tram to Howth.

“A phone call to a few of the local members would have given them the answer that they came up with.”

Council chief AnnMarie Farrelly said its appointment as the competent authority for aircraft noise led to an additional need for specialist services, with funding to be recouped via an airport levy.

The revenue budget for 2020 is separate to a three-year capital investment programme of €619 million passed in October for 236 projects across Fingal.

The 2020-2022 capital spend provides for more consultants’ fees for a number of projects – including the pressing issue of coastal erosion in Portrane.

Ms Farrelly said: “For the most part, in terms of local government work the best experts are the ones that work for us at Fingal County Council.

“Coastal erosion is a worrying issue which is difficult to deliver on time because it is rapidly deteriorating. External experts have been working with us on this and their work is ongoing.”

A breakdown of the €269m provides €73.6m for housing and building, €47.7m for environmental protection, €45.2m for recreation and amenity, €28.6m for road transport and safety, €18.5m for water services, €31m for “miscellaneous services” and €1.1m for agriculture, education, health and welfare.

It is an increase of €32m from 2019 and is the equivalent of €911 per head of population.

The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Eoghan O’Brien, said: “Despite the challenges we faced we have still been able to provide for a modest increase in services, which shows that Fingal County Council is a well-run and prudently-managed council.”

Almost €5m has been allocated for additional investment in local services such as street cleaning, parks maintenance and other operational activities, as well as housing and homelessness.

This sum includes the €2m raised by the decision by councillors in September to only reduce the Local Property Tax by 10%, rather than the full 15%.

A capital provision of €2m has been provided towards the funding of the Swords Cultural Quarter, with more funding for heritage properties and expansion of events activities.

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