THE ESTIMATED expenditure in Limerick County Council’s budget for 2013 which amounts to €110.36m is down by almost €20m from “what we had in those lofty, heady days of the Celtic Tiger” noted Cllr John Sheahan this week.
The Fine Gael councillor was speaking at the budget meeting in County Hall this Tuesday where it was heard that the commercial rate in County Limerick is being left untouched for the seventh consecutive year.
The county’s commercial rate remains among the lowest in Ireland at 59.91c per euro of valuation.
Conn Murray, manager of Limerick local authorities said the decision to maintain one of the lowest commercial rate multipliers in the country demonstrated the council’s support for the business community. “The increase in the number of vacant properties locally due to examinership, receivership, liquidation and closedowns brings to the fore the very challenging environment in which local businesses currently operate. This is further highlighted by the fact that the inflation rate increased by 2.59% for 2011 and a further 2.10% is likely for 2012. Therefore, so as to ensure that Limerick continues to be an attractive location for new and existing investment, I have proposed a freeze in the commercial rate for 2013,” he explained.
Mr Murray noted an additional allocation of €100k towards promoting and marketing County Limerick during 2013 in order to give back to the businesses “which we know are struggling out there”.
The allocation, he said, would help to ensure the county remains an attractive location for new and existing investment.
The total estimated expenditure included in the council’s Budget for 2013 amounts to €110.3m, a reduction of €3.4m (3%) on the adopted figure for 2012. This level of expenditure will be financed from the goods and services (34%), commercial rates (26%), grants and subsidies (22%), local government fund grant (16%) and pension levy (1%).
The meeting heard that staff numbers have decreased by 26% (871 to 645) since 2006 and this trend is likely to continue into 2013. “I would like to thank the staff of Limerick County Council at all levels for their commitment in ensuring the delivery of work programmes in difficult circumstances,” said Mr Murray.
Businesses in County Limerick will be hit with further costs next year after councillors agreed to increase water charges as part of the budget. Fianna Fáil councillors were critical of the move which will see an extra 10 cent put on the cost with the charge increasing from €2.60 per 1,000 litres of water to €2.70. While the notification of the Road Grant allocations for 2013 has not yet been received, indications are that the allocations for the non-national roads will be reduced by 10 per cent which Cllr Michael Collins described as “a complete disaster”. Cllr Collins asked that the discretionary spend for councillors be reinstated which he said “was always a goodwill gesture towards councillors”.