By BRIAN MOORE
CORK County Council has allocated an extra €20m to its budget for next year, as well as the use of a car and a driver for the County Mayor, and all those who get the job after him.
There is also good news for the communities and businesses in West Cork, as both the housing and roads divisions are to see an increase in funding for 2018.
At a meeting in County Hall this week, councillors voted to accept a proposed budget totalling in excess of €320m for the coming year.
The vote, which followed a lengthy debate, was carried by 31 votes in favour to just eight against.
County Mayor Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said that he welcomed the new budget and highlighted the importance of delivering funding, which would continue to deliver on the success of a number of projects for the people of Cork.
The allocation of €30,000 to provide for the use of a car and a driver for the County Mayor was welcomed, with councillors from all parties acknowledging the miles travelled by the Mayor to events across the county.
However, the increased budget also means a increased deficit of €2.9m, up over 50% from 2017.
But there will also be an increased spend on homeless services, the boiler maintenance programme and the housing repairs programme. Public lighting will receive over €400,000, with €1m provided in the capital programme for footpaths.
‘While I welcome parts of the budget,’ Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) of the Bandon/Kinsale area said, ‘we have had to dip into our reserves to the tune of €2.9m and I look forward to the day when we actually balance a budget. West Cork will benefit and I welcome the increase in expenditure in the areas of housing, roads, recreation and amenities. We must also seek to improve our coastal management and the increased funds for piers and harbours will go a long way in this respect.’
The 2018 budget expects an increase of just under 3% in revenue generated by rates, from €128m in 2017, to just over €131m in 2018.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) welcomed the budget, especially the increase in funds for housing and roads, but Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) felt that more could have been allocated to homelessness in West Cork.
‘From my point of view, today’s budget contained both positives and negatives,’ Cllr Hayes said.
‘We would’ve liked to see money spent on providing extra emergency housing officers to deal with the huge increase in people facing homelessness and extra funding for Disabled Persons Grants to clear the backlog of people waiting to adapt their homes, for example. However, the Council chose to spend that money elsewhere, including upgrading its IT system.’