LIMERICK County Council has been forced to seek savings of over €3m next year, according to documents presented to councillors.
Expenditure on services across the county is to be reduced by a total of €3.4m as management try and deliver savings, after last week’s national budget delivered a cut to €17.6m
According to the book of estimates presented to councillors, manager Conn Murray is proposing cuts to street cleaning, housing spend, water services and recreation and amenity.
The book provides councillors with recommendations on where money should be allocated in the coming year ahead of the annual budget meeting next Friday.
There is good news for the business community, with the commercial rate set to be frozen for a sixth consecutive year.
The county’s business charge remains among the lowest in Ireland at 59.91c per euro of valuation.
Extra grants from the government and cost savings have ensured the City Council’s commercial rate has dropped by some five per cent to just over 70c per rate of valuation.
Councillors have welcomed the recommendation of freeze in rates, but acknowledged that more tough times lie ahead.
Cllr Richard Butler, Fine Gael, welcomed the freeze, but said he would have preferred to see a rate reduction.
“This is the only way for businesses to go forward and create jobs, as well as maintaining what is there at the moment,” he said.
Cllr Bill O’Donnell also welcomed the freeze in commercial rates.
Spend on the maintenance of local roads is set to be cut from €13.9m to €13.2m, while the spend on regional highways in the county looks likely to fall by almost €1m, from €4.9m to €4m.
County Council is seeking to cut the spend on the maintenance of housing units, housing grants, as well as the RAS scheme.
In all the sectors for which county hall has responsibility, the biggest cut - €1.9m - is to come from the roads department.
This is followed by a €1.6m cut to spend in agriculture.
Every other service is to see cuts of between €200,000 and €800,000.
Spend on public conveniences looks likely to be cut from €70,000 annually to €64,497.
There is likely to be an €83,000 cut to the street cleaning service - down from €851,000.
Funding for the operation of the fire service in the county is set to drop by €322,701, to €6.3m.
Labour’s Dooradoyle councillor Tomas Hannon acknowledged that every cost is going to have to be examined at next Friday’s budget meeting.
With spend on public lighting proposed to fall by €106,145 to €1.3m, he indicated the time has come to examine the possibility of dipped street lights at night.
“We have been providing public lighting for quite some time. In other jurisdictions, they do not have the lights on at night. We have to look at every aspect of funding, whether it is public lighting, footpaths, or whatever,” he said.
With the Gathering on the way to Limerick, spend is proposed to going up in tourism, but drop in economic development.
The cost to service the Gortnadroma landfill - slated for closure next year - is to increase from €11m to €12m.
In his report to councillors, Mr Murray said pollution of the River Deel caused one of the main overspends in an “exceptionally challenging year”.