ANNUAL funding cuts to the forthcoming Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council budget (DLRCC) will be around €1.1 million, according to the county manager’s prediction of household charge compliance by December.
The council is hoping to reduce this figure by more than half in 2013, via a selection of cutbacks.
County manager Owen Keegan last week delivered a report on how the council could make reductions in order to balance the books for 2013 as a result of the annual budget cuts being imposed by the Government.
He said: “When the Government contacted us in July with the circular [regarding budget reductions], our household charge compliance for the county was at 79.2%. As of this morning, it is 81.7%. At the end of the year, it should probably be at 85%.
“We have the highest [compliance rate] of any local authority in the State, but the Government wants 100% by December 31, which is a very heroic assumption.
“I think it’s unfair that local authorities should be penalised for any perceived failure to collect the charge,” he said.
“The likely cut for 2013 is €1.1 million. We’re now looking at a cut of €530,000 net for adjustments. I’m satisfied that this reduction in expenditure will have little or no impact on services.
“The cuts are coming from energy-saving measures, some transport, communications and elsewhere.”
Of the report, Councillor Gerry Horkan (FF) said: “It’s to the credit of the manager’s team that we’re only having to implement savings or cutbacks of €530,000, though our overall Government cut is expected to be €1.1 million. That’s less than half [of what we would have to find].
“Where a local authority reaches a certain level of, say, 85% [compliance], it should get 100% of budget funds. Don’t forget that not a penny of the money collected by the council goes to the council – it all goes to central government and the Local Government Management Agency.”
Cllr Melisa Halpin (PBP) criticised the household charge, and defended her party’s stance on it.
“You cannot fund local government on the basis of a flat tax [that is] not based on a person’s ability to pay. Where will it end?”
There was criticism of People Before Profit’s involvement in the anti-household charge campaign in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown region.
Cllr Denis O’Callaghan (Lab) said: “I want to congratulate the manager’s tight housekeeping and the sacrifices made by council staff. I don’t like the household tax, but we’re lumbered with it.”
However, he then criticised PBP’s stance on rejecting the household charge, saying: “The leader of their party, an elected TD for this county and someone who represents Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, is encouraging people to break the law, and I think that it’s beneath the man.”