Fires, snow and struggling businesses impact on council budget 2012

Hard press businesses in Donegal will be deprived a commercial rate cut as the council struggles to make up a 5 million euro deficit ahead of its budget announcement next week.
The County Manager has a proposed budget of 148 million to spend in 2012, that is 5 million less than was available last year.
In his pre-budget submission the County Manager has outlined how it has proven to be a difficult year.
Seamus Neely says that in preparing the budget he has endeavoured to maintain the council’s key functions and the maintenance of front line Council services.
However his job has been hampered significantly -Council income from commercial rates is down significantly as businesses struggle to stay afloat in the current recession.
The authority’s resources were stretched further this year dealing with extremely cold weather, flooding and gorse fires.
External factors such as a significant reduction in government spend are putting additional pressures of the cash strapped council.
In terms of service delivery, council staff numbers dropped again in 2011 with a significant number of experienced staff set to retire before the end of February.
The county manager says that as a result, fundamental reshaping and restructuring of the council will have to continue.
To help balance the books, it’s proposed that commercial rates will be maintained at the current level, the cost of water for some will increase by 15%, wastewater charges will go up by 5%.
The amount spent on roads will fall from 3.6 million in 2011 to 2.6 million for next year.
On a positive note, 200 thousand euro has been set aside for targeted business support.
Councillors meet on Monday to discuss and then adopt the budget.