Kilkenny County Council has dropped its commercial rates by 0.5% for this year.
Officials had proposed to maintain the previous rate in the council’s budget for 2012, but an amendment including the rate cut was passed by members on Monday afternoon.
The €60,000 will be taken out of the fund for local roads, bringing that down from €1.688 million to just over €1 million.
“You can’t cut grants to the poor, the elderly, the disabled or any disadvantaged section of our community,” said Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh (FG) in proposing the amendment.
With the €60,000 amounting to €12,000 for each electoral area, she asked how much resurfacing that would cover.
It is the equivalent of 250 metres of road surfacing, replied director of services John Mulholland – but he noted that resurfacing funds usually come from the Department of Transport, while the council’s local roads fund is used for potholes and other “defects.”
The amendment was seconded by Cllr Michael O’Brien (Lab), and supporters maintained that work by the FÁS community employment schemes could make up some of the shortfall.
The amendment was passed with the 19 Fine Gael, Labour and Green Party members voting for and the seven Fianna Fáil voting against.
Another amendment had been put forward by Cllr Matt Doran (FF), who proposed that commercial rates be cut and that more money be spent on housing maintenance. He proposed that an amount of €600,000 set aside for housing repairs in the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) instead be spent on these two areas.
He was told by council officials, however, that it was a legal requirement for that money to be set aside for RAS, to cover expenses incurred in re-letting a property or making up for rent arrears. Cllr Doran’s amendment was therefore not voted on by the council.
Chairman Paul Cuddihy (FG) noted that Kilkenny’s rates are now “half that of Kerry.”