No rates hike: Budget aims to boost business

There will be no change to commercial rates in Kilkenny City in 2013, in keeping with the borough council’s stated ambition to reduce the burden on local businesses.

There will be no change to commercial rates in Kilkenny City in 2013, in keeping with the borough council’s stated ambition to reduce the burden on local businesses.

There has been no increase in rates now since the onset of the recession in 2008. Kilkenny’s remain among the lowest in the country.

The details of the budget for the city were revealed on Tuesday evening of last week at a special meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council. County and city manager Joe Crockett said the document aimed to address issues raised by members over the past year, as well as having due regard to the poor economic situation generally.

The meeting was somewhat marked by a general sense of unease, as a result of the looming local government reforms which will abolish the council entirely next year. Councillors were all aware that this may well be their second-last budget ever.

They were also having to make do with reduced income from central Government. The Local Government Fund for this year was slashed by 5% to €1.2 million.

The budget received unanimous support from the councillors present. Cllr Martin Brett (FG) proposed its adoption and warned of the consequences for the city if the borough council is to be abolished.

“There are a lot of people who seriously depend on the funding generated by this body,” he said.

“In a year, the funding base will be gone. We need to flag this with people now so that they are aware of what will happen.”

Fianna Fail whip Cllr Joe Reidy also said the budget was a demonstration of why the historic institution should be maintained, as did Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green Party).

Arts Festival

Among the budget beneficiaries was Kilkenny Arts Festival, which received an additional €10,000 on top of the sum given in previous years.

The council made the decision as a goodwill gesture to the popular festival, which engenders substantial spending in the city, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The Garda youth diversion scheme was restored this year, with a €5,000 allocation, and there was also €5,000 earmarked for a future suicide prevention initiative.

“Suicide is an issue that has affected everyone one of us, so we wanted to put some money aside,” said Cllr Joe Reidy.

“This will allow us to assist with a professional-lead initiative down the road.”

Housing

The allocation for the housing and building divison remained largely the same as for 2012, although the spending on housing adaptation grants will likely be reduced due to central Government cutbacks.

Some €50,000 was earmarked for a retro-fitting scheme. Administration of homeless services received a small increase.

Roads and transport was allocated €2.7 million, down from €3.1 million having been spent last year. The council still expects to generate approximately €2 million from parking charges and fines.

Around €1.5 million will be spent in the environmental services department, with the vast bulk of this for street cleaning and litter management. The refuse collection service in the city will continue.