Cork County Council warns it may have to cut services if it does not get extra funding

The maintenance of roads, playgrounds, and cemeteries could suffer amid a €24m gap in the local authority's finances
Cork County Council warns it may have to cut services if it does not get extra funding

Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey: 'It’s clear that we are facing a considerable increase in cost base across several areas.' File picture

Cork County Council has warned that it will be forced to cut services, including street cleaning and housing repairs, unless the Government announces significant additional funding for local authorities.

Council management has revealed a €24m gap in its finances and warned that the maintenance of roads, playgrounds, and cemeteries could all suffer without additional income.

Councillors have balked at the idea of increasing the local property tax (LPT) to help plug the gap, which could yet see commercial ratepayers getting stung if there is no significant intervention from central government.

The council’s head of finance, Lorraine Lynch, said at a minimum they need to find an extra €16m to keep their budget balanced for next year and urged councillors to increase the LPT to its highest level for householders in order to help bridge the gap.

She said the council is facing additional responsibilities in the coming years, such as the improvement and maintenance of new projects such as cycleways/greenways, which means an extra €24m is needed to keep pace.

Ms Lynch said library and swimming pool operations could also be impacted while grants to community centres and residents’ associations could be reduced. In the face of soaring inflation, the council’s finances are severely stretched and the money it has can’t cover its projected outlay, she added.

The heads of all the council’s directorates have been asked to make a 14% cut in their budgets to make ends meet, but this still won’t address the budget deficit.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said: “It’s clear that we are facing a considerable increase in cost base across several areas. 

Also, our income is static. The gap [between expenditure and income] is very significant. 

Ms Lynch said that while each of the council’s directorates had put forward potential cuts, they were all clamouring for more money.

She said the council had plugged some gaps from its own resources to negate the impacts, but this can’t continue.

Fine Gael leader on the council John Paul O’Shea said that when he joined the local authority, its reserves stood at €17m, but plugging the gaps in central government funding had brought them down “to the lowest we’ve ever had at €4.7m". 

While he hopes the Government will intervene in the financial crisis, he added if it does not sufficiently address the situation, then councillors will have to bite the bullet and have no option but to increase the local property tax and commercial rates to shore up its finances.

Ms Lynch maintained that a rise in the property tax might be “palatable” to households, but the cuts in services to them, as a result, may not.

However, county mayor Danny Collins proposed there would be no increase in the property tax for 2023, which was accepted by councillors.

Independent councillor Declan Hurley then proposed that be extended to 2024, which was also agreed.

However, senior council officials pointed out to him that under standing orders, that can be revisited if the financial situation changes.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub


Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub


logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

Execution Time: 0.251 s