Cork City Council agreed an expenditure budget of €226 million for 2021 at the annual budget meeting on Monday evening, an increase of approximately €4 million in spending compared to 2020.
The main contributors to the increase in expenditure are an increase in payroll of €0.8 million, an increase in pensions of €0.5 million, an increase in funding for public lighting of €1.6 million and an extra €0.4 million for traffic signals.
Cork City Council voted in September to increase the Local Adjustment Factor of the Local Property Tax by 7.5% the rate of Local Property Tax, which will represent an additional €1.6 million income to the local authority in 2021.
However, even allowing for this increase, Cork City Council will experience reduced income in all revenue streams for 2021, therefore has had to curtail its spend on services across all directorates by €1.5 million.
Cork City Council Chief Executive, Ann Doherty said: “The proposed budget provides a reasonable balance across the competing objectives of developing the social, cultural, economic, environmental and infrastructural needs of the city in a socially inclusive manner that Council is charged with progressing.”
The Elected Members voted 22 for and 8 against. As a result of the boundary extension, Cork City Council became a self-funding local authority from a local property tax perspective. For 2021, Cork City Council will generate more funding from LPT than it will be allowed to keep and spend on current expenditure. The excess will be €2.9 million, of which €2.7 million will be used for Housing Capital services and €200k for Housing Revenue services.
The income from commercial rates represents 43% of the total income of the City Council. There will be no rate increase in the 2021 budget. The rates incentive scheme will continue whereby a grant is given to all compliant ratepayers when certain criteria are met.
The scheme is aimed at small and medium enterprises, who make up 57% of the ratepayer base. The grant in 2021 will be 3% of the annual bill/charge (up to maximum bill of €4,000). There will be no application process involved. The rate accounts which meet the qualifying criteria, will have the grant automatically applied as a credit to their account in 2022.
There will be no increase to parking charges in 2021, which remain at €1.70/€2.00/€2.30 for both on-street and off-street parking. Cork City Council’s car parks at Paul Street and North Main Street are the cheapest in the city.
In 2020, Cork City Council received an allocation from the NTA of €4 million in relation to Active Travel Measures as part of the July Stimulus programme. This covered footpath upgrades and provision of new footpaths, provision of new/widened cycle lanes & pedestrian crossings, installation of parklets, installation of automated rising bollards to permanently restrict vehicular access to streets, new bike parking at 50 locations in the city, and low-cost safety schemes. Work is ongoing on all projects.
€2.3 million is to be allocated to events, community, arts and sports grants. €911,800 has been provided for arts bodies, including Cork Opera House. €259,800 has been included for Cork City Council Arts Committee grants and €270,000 included for Community Grants.
Rebuilding Ireland – An Action Plan for Housing & Homelessness was published by Government in July 2016. The City Council has been to the forefront in actioning and successfully advancing several acquisitions and construction projects to deliver additional social housing units in the City. The Rebuilding Ireland target for 2018-2021 for build, acquisition and leasing is 2,154. Cork City Council is on track to deliver this target.