Poor household charge returns blamed as council cuts services
Cork City Council cut €1.25 million across a range of departments and projects at Monday’s meeting of councillors.
The cuts were made necessary, the council was told, after returns in the household charge for the city were recorded officially at 59 per cent in mid July. Current compliance, according to the City Manager, stands at 64 per cent. Final reminder letters are to issued this week to those still to pay the charge.
Overall Cork City Council’s grant has been reduced by 10.33 per cent which equates to a figure of €1.784 million.
Along with the €1.25 million cuts announced, the Lord Mayor, Cllr John Buttimer, took a voluntary pay cut of 10 per cent on the mayoral salary, equating to €9,267.20.
The cuts will be reassessed in October ahead of Quarter Four where the money being withheld by the Department of the Environment could be released if Household Charge returns improve.
Areas that have seen significant cuts include roads and housing maintenance, as well as parks and recreation and general administration. The housing cut includes a suspension of boiler checks for the rest of 2012.
The Council pays an average of €50 per boiler checked with the bulk discount for the 8,500 houses on the books.
The fire services emergency provision of €25,000 has also been cut along with community education projects. The emergency provision was there to deal with any initial costs that arise in case of situations.
The Christmas in Cork Festival was also cut by €50,000 while the Manager insisted that a significant budget still remains for the festival at €225,000.
The Library book buying budget for the rest of 2012 has been suspended while a 10 percent cut across contributions to community organisations and the Arts has also been implemented. Those groups who had already received their grants for this year will see an adjustment in 2013.
Sinn Féin’s Chris O’Leary forced a vote on the measures, despite the vote having no impact on the implementation. A majority of councillors opposed the cuts in their vote while a significant amount abstained.
Councillors who voted in favour (10): Joe Kelleher (Lab), Michael Ahern (Lab), Joe Kavanagh (FG), Patricia Gosch (FG), Joe O’Callaghan (FG), Des Cahill (FG), Laura McGonigle (FG), Jim Corr (FG) Emmet O’Halloran (FG), John Buttimer (FG).
Councillors who voted against (14): Mick Barry (Socialist), Kenneth O’Flynn (Ind), Kieran McCarthy (Ind), Mick Finn (Ind), Ted Tynan (Workers Party), Thomas Gould (SF), Mick Nugent (SF), Chris O’Leary (SF), Fiona Kerins (SF), Henry Cremin (SF), Terry Shannon (FF), Sean Martin (FF), Mary Shields (FF), Tony Fitzgerald (FF).
Councillors who abstained (6): Tim Brosnan (FF), Catherine Clancy (Lab), Michael O’Connell (Lab), Denis O’Flynn (Lab), Lorraine Kingston (Lab), Ger Gibbons (Lab).
Adjustments and implications
Road Maintenance - €200,000 – Combination of expected savings in winter maintenance costs and reduction in funds for general maintenance works across networks.
Housing Maintenance - €200,000 – Deferral of planned boiler servicing programme and reduction in funding for general maintenance works.
Water Services - €75,000 – Expected savings in operation of plant and network.
Drainage Services - €95,000 – Expected savings in operation of plant and network.
Parks and Recreation - €80,000 – Combination of expected savings in operations and reduction in funding for maintenance and improvement works, including items such as deferral of equipment and stock replacement etc.
Waste Management - €105,000 – Combination of expected savings and efficiencies and reduction in funding for anti-litter campaign, gum removal programme and bulky goods collection.
Fire Services - €50,000 – Expected savings in community fire safety programme and contingencies for major emergency management.
Libraries/Museum – 80,000 – Combination of expected savings in operations including cessation of library book purchases for the remainder of the year
Contributions to community organisations, the arts and external bodies - €100,000 – Representing a 10 per cent reduction of total budget for these areas. Impact will be spread across recipients. In order for an equitable distribution of the reductions, some organizations already in receipt of payments in full in 2012, and continuing to be in receipt of funding into 2013 will be adjusted accordingly.
Festivals Provision - €50,000 – Reduction in budget for Christmas in Cork Festival which will be held this year. Significant budget remains to support its continuation.
Planning and Development - €50,000 – Deferral of Protected Structures Grants Scheme and operational cost savings.
General Administration - €115,000 – Further reduction in spend on optional advertising, PR, and ongoing savings from efficiency/cost saving measures across organisation.