DESPITE the economic climate, and governmental cuts, Limerick City Council has spent an extra €250,000 on new projects this year.
Chairman of the economic committee Cllr Diarmuid Scully said that although the council had lost almost €1m from governmental cuts, the decline in parking disc sales, and an enforced payment to the County Council, higher than expected payment of rents, and lower staff costs, means council has been able to advance several projects.
Speaking at this week’s council meeting, Cllr Scully pointed out they have been able to spend an additional €200,000 in housing maintenance, €50,000 in aid for the elderly, and a further €10,000 on the repair of dangerous buildings.
The main reasons for these savings is the drop in the payroll bill, following the non-replacement of staff, and higher than expected payment of rents from council tenants.
Although the council has seen its cut from the local government grant slashed by €200,000, due to the non-payment of the household charge, the recovery of money far outweighs this.
A group of anti-household charge demonstrators were at the meeting as the council voted through this cut.
But Cllr Scully says the demonstration makes no sense to him, because of the increase in spend the council has also made.
“It is the craziest protest I have ever seen. I have never known anyone to come and protest at the fact we are getting more money to spend on the provision of services. I was the president of the Student Union in UL, and have ran protests in my time. But never have I protested about nothing: This demonstration is about nothing. They are effectively protesting that we are spending an extra €260,000” he said.
However, Sinn Fein’s northside councillor Maurice Quinlivan said:“It is not as bad as we anticipated, but we must remember we are still getting a cut of €200,000. Our staff are working harder, and we have not had an anti-social behaviour officer in a long time.”
This summer, Environment Minister Phil Hogan sought to cut Limerick’s grant by €800,000 due to non-payment of the household charge.
But an increase in payment since has seen the department reduce this to €200,000.