Kilkenny councillors vote 7-3 to accept 20% cut to discretionary fund

Loss of borough council lamented with reduced discretionary budget in the offing

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY CITY HALL

Cllr Malcolm Noonan said he had been there 14 years and never not supported a budget

Local councillors have voted 7-3 in favour of a draft budgetary plan for the Kilkenny City Municipal District which will entail a 20% reduction to the area’s 2018 discretionary municipal allocation compared to this year.

In previous years, the area has benefited from a €100,000 discretionary allocation, however, the council’s head of finance Martin Prendiville says the local authority is facing a number of tough decisions ahead of the main budget meeting on November 24.

In recent days, Municipal Districts in the north and south of the county have also voted for reduced discretionary allocations for their areas. On Friday, the members of the City Municipal District, an area which also includes towns such as Callan and Thomastown, had their say.

"The proposal for the municipal district of Kilkenny is €80,000," said Mr Prendiville.

"It is down €20,000 from 2017. In arriving at a balanced draft, there were significant issues to consider and we had to find savings across a number of areas."

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael members backed the €80,000 allocation, saying the time had come for difficult choices to be made.
Cllr Matt Doran (FF) thanked Mr Prendiville and his team for their work in the run-up to the meeting and the ongoing work on the budget. He proposed the decision be accepted and the draft be adopted.

“At a municipal level, it’s hugely disappointing to experience a cut in discretionary funding, but we had to make our choices,” he said.

It was seconded by Cllr David Fitzgerald (FG).

“Simple choices were given,” he said.

“The question was put to us on the Local Property Tax, and I agree the right decision was made not to increase taxes on people. It has left us with a difficult budget position though.”

It was opposed by Cllr David Kennedy (SF), who decried the reduced allocation. Cllr Breda Gardener also took issue with the cut. 

Cllr Andrew McGuinness said he had concerns in relation to the budget, but it was ‘a sign of the times’. He said €20,000 wasn’t a lot given the amounts of money spent on large projects in recent years, but in terms of the little jobs around the city - repairing potholes and fixing pavements - it would mean a lot.

“We need our city council back, we need the borough council back,” he said.

“I don’t remember ever fighting over small change then, and that’s what we’re doing here."

Cllr Malcolm Noonan said he had been there 14 years and never not supported a budget. He said a former Minister for the Environment had gone on ‘to bigger and better things, and left local Government in tatters’.

“I have taken a stand today because of what’s happening with the Government,” he said. 

“I think it’s a very sorry state of affairs looking at this agenda today, and where were are compared to the old borough council,” he said, noting the latter had the ability to set its own Commercial Rates and decide significant income and expenditure matters.

“Here we are, scraping the bottom of the barrel now for a much-expanded municipal area,” he added.

A vote was taken, with the budget carried 7-3, with two councillors absent.

For: Matt Doran, Michael Doyle, David Fitzgerald, Joe Malone, Andrew McGuinness, Patrick McKee, Patrick O' Neill.

Against: Breda Gardener, David Kennedy, Malcolm Noonan.

Absent: Peter Cleere, Sean Tyrrell.