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Managing council budgets ‘difficult’

MANAGING local authority budgets is an almost impossible task due to their inadequate share of central government taxes, Cork-based Fine Gael Cllr Jim Corr has said.

Mr Corr, a member of the corporate police group and finance committee of Cork City Council, was responding to recent criticism by Cork business organisations of the city’s rates and service charges.

The business groups called for free parking on Saturdays to bring shoppers into the city. They also want any monies recouped through local authority cutbacks to stay in the city, rather than find their way to central government coffers.

Mr Corr noted: "We believe that we are not getting a just share of the receipts of national taxation collected by the Government and it would ease the question of high local charges if Government were to increase the level of the Local Government Fund distributed to each local authority.

"The suggestion that a reduction in the levels of local government charges would be the solution to Cork’s dangerously high unemployment numbers is wrong, and a refusal on the part of the commercial sector to face the realities of life in 2010.

"In the current year, Cork City Council’s overall revenue expenditure is set at €193.856m. To cover that expenditure, we have budgeted to collect 36% of it from the people of Cork in payment for a range of services such as housing rents, refuse charges, commercial water charges etc. The commercial rate payers will, we hope, provide 34% of the anticipated income and the remaining 30% comes from Government in the Local Government Fund."

Mr Corr said that the Cork Business Association and the chambers of commerce should recognise this reality and make their case to Government.