Council hit with unforeseen staff pay increase bill

Council hit with unforeseen staff pay increase bill
Sam Matthews @SamAMatthewsKP

Kilkenny County Council is facing a bill of more than a quarter of a million euro which was not budgeted for, as part of early staff pay increases under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The increase — of €1,000 for staff earning less than €65,000 — is now to be paid from April 1 due to an amendment to the public service agreement. It was not expected and thus not provided for in the local authority's budget for 2017, adopted by councillors in November.

At the February meeting of Kilkenny County Council, chief executive Colette Byrne told members about the unexpectedly early payment, and said there was no indication to date from the Department that any additional funding will be provided to cover the shortfall.

“It's positive for staff who earn less than €65,000, but it could have an effect if it can't be recouped,” she said.

On a positive note for the council's finances, Ms Byrne noted that collection levels for Commercial Rates — which were already in good stead — have increased by 2%, and now stand at 94%. The chief executive said that Rates demands for this year have been issued to property owners, and praised the work of the council's head of finance Martin Prendiville and his team.

“It's an extra good result,” she said.

Seek funding back

Cllr Peter 'Chap' Cleere welcomed the staff payment being brought forward, but said he had concerns that it had not been budgeted for.

“I request we write to the Minister and the Department, seeking this funding back immediately,” he said.

“We can't be in a situation where we have to cut local services for this.”