Council approves budget for 2015

by Gazette Reporter

FINGAL County Council passed its Revenue Budget for 2015 by a vote of 26 to 13 at a meeting on Tuesday, November 4. Sinn Fein, the Anti-Austerity Alliance and a small number of Independent councillors voted against it but were outnumbered by the other councillors. Council officials said the budget represented a major investment in the social, economic and cultural fabric of the county.
The budget provides for a total expenditure of €206,609,200 and income of €72,860,500. A balance of €20,100 from the 2014 budget leaves a net requirement of €133,728,600.
Cllr Matt Waine (AAA) said: “The Anti-Austerity Alliance has rejected the annual budget of Fingal County Council, containing, as it does, severe attacks on the living standards of hard-pressed families in Fingal.”
One of the main areas of discussion at the meeting related to Division A of the budget: housing and building.
The budget specifically provides for investment in an enhanced operational works programme, with additional funding of €1.25m. It also provides for additional investment of €1.75m in housing areas, including maintenance and upkeep of council housing stock, Traveller estate improvement works and homeless services. Of this, €1.25m will be allocated to homeless services.
Cllr David McGuinness (FF) welcomed this: “The increase of over €1m in the homeless budget means we can assist families who are removed from their homes by landlords looking to sell.”
Director of housing and community Anne-Marie Farrelly confirmed that the council is currently examining the feasibility of a number of sites on which to begin construction of 300 social houses in 2015.
Cllr Matt Waine was unhappy with this. He said: “There is a major housing emergency in the State. While 16,000 families languish on Fingal’s housing waiting lists, the absence of any serious house building programme is an insult to those families. It ‘is business as usual’ as Government policy is still to rely on the private sector, whether through construction or the private rented sector, to resolve the housing emergency.”
Another area of much discussion was commercial rates. There is to be no increase in the current annual rate on valuation (ARV) of 0.144. Commercial rates income for 2015 is projected at €120.2m, an increase of €1.96m on the 2014 budgeted rates figure of €118,257,900.
Cllr Joe Newman (Ind) welcomed this saying: “The valuation of rates has been left as it has been for the last number of years. It’s good for businesses that it hasn’t been increased as some businesses and property owners are struggling.”
He said the policy of charging property owners who are struggling and unable to trade the full rate remains in place, and this needed to be looked into. The full budget for 2015 can be viewed at www.fingalcoco.ie

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