Kilkenny Borough Council is making moves to support local business by reducing its commercial rates and absorbing the VAT increase on city car parking for 2012.
The Borough Council draft budget, discussed by members last night (Tuesday), contains a provision to reduce commercial rates by 1.8%.
The reduction in rates is aimed to ease the burden on local retailers, and the council hopes it will send a message to the commercial sector that it is committed to supporting business through the recession.
A second measure planned by the council to support the retail sector is to freeze the price of parking for 2012. The 2% increase in VAT to be introduced on New Year’s Day would increase the cost of parking in Kilkenny.
The full-year costs of VAT on parking charges is estimated at €350,00, according to the council.
The reduction in funding from the national government has resulted in a tightening of belts by the Borough Council as it prepared its annual budget.
The Local Government Fund allocation has been reduced by 8%. In 2011 the fund was €1.56 million but for 2012 the fund has been reduced to €1.43 million.
Other sources of income that the council has traditionally relied on such as planning fees have fallen dramatically in recent years. In 2009 the council received over €33,000 in planning fees. As of October 31 this year Kilkenny Borough Council had taken in only €8,000 in planning fees.
In his note to councillors, county manager Joe Crockett said: “The degrees to which various income streams can be relied upon are being tested to the extreme. All sources of income are under pressure as the national economy struggles to recover.”
Despite the pressure on the Borough Council’s finances, it is continuing to support a number of initiatives and progress with plans to develop the city. When viewed as a complete document the budget represents an investment of nearly €13 million in Kilkenny city.
The council has applied for funding through Fáilte Ireland to the value of €8.5 million for developments to St Mary’s Church, the Butler Gallery and the Kilkenny Design Complex Project as well as improvements to the public realm. These are projects that the council is hoping to progress over a number of years.
The main areas of expenditure in the immediate future include €300,000 for the Watershed at Scanlon Park; €230,000 improvement to Newpark and Ormonde Road; €150,000 support for the arts; €50,000 for research and innovation; €60,000 variable message signage; €100,000 for energy conservation measures works in occupied local authority houses; and €100,000 for the City Walls project, according to the draft budget.
As a joint initiative with the Kilkenny County Council €30,000 is being set aside for the restoration for the running track at Scanlon Park.