Cork County Council has approved an Annual Budget for 2022 of €372 million, an increase of €24 million on the budget for 2021. In contending with the worst global pandemic in a century, the Council has pledged to continue its approach of supporting citizens and communities, while ensuring the highest levels of service delivery.
The priority for the Annual Budget has been ensuring the provision of existing service levels despite the challenges of COVID 19. This was undertaken with an emphasis on economic development and support for business communities. There is also a renewed focus on climate adaptation across all operations, as Ireland transitions to becoming a carbon neutral society.
Commenting on the passing of the 2022 Annual Budget, Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan highlighted how, “Cork County Council’s approach is one that is very conscious of the need to support the business sector and is designed to underpin the sustainability of communities. A number of important funding initiatives are being fully retained, such as the General Municipal Allocation for our 8 Municipal Districts, ensuring continue supports are available for our county’s towns and villages.”
Mayor Coughlan went on to say, “funding through the Economic Development Fund which drives our tourism and strategic marketing initiatives as well as further town center rejuvenation to address issues such as vacancy and dereliction has been ringfenced. Further investment will also follow into our Rural Digital Innovation Hubs, which are essential to the resilience of towns and will ensure balanced economic growth across Cork County.”
Some of the initiatives in Cork County Council’s Budget for 2022 include:
- Additional funding for the maintenance and improvement of Local Authority Housing with provisions to refurbish in excess of 150 vacant properties during 2022.
- €1.2m for Economic Development Fund and to address town regeneration issues.
- €8.2m for Libraries, and a fund of €150,000 for the Arts Program for Creative Towns and Spaces.
Cork County Council’s Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) has remained unchanged since 2008. This has run against inflationary pressure, with the consumer price index recording an increase of 9.24% in the decade from January 2011 to September 2021. Budget 2022 will see a 3% increase in the ARV. A profile of Cork County Council’s rate base in September 2021 shows that the bulk of ratepayers represent small businesses with 30% have rate bills less than €1,000 per annum. Under Budget 2022, those ratepayers would see their rates increase by €16.90 over the course of the year, or 4c per day.
Mayor Coughlan highlighted how, “an increase in rates is never a decision that is taken lightly. However, this small increase is necessary in order to to present a balanced budget that will secure continued service delivery, economic investment and support.”
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act for 2021 commits Ireland to move to a climate resilient and climate neutral economy by 2050. Cork County Council continues to play a pivotal role in adapting to climate change. Budget 2022 contains provisions for;
- The Public Lighting Efficiency Project to retrofit upwards of 31,000 lights to LED by 2024 achieving at least 38% energy reduction and significant cost savings.
- A ringfenced fund for Climate Action and Biodiversity with €400,000 being provided for 2022.
- A Fleet Replacement Programme to upgrade to newer more fuel-efficient vehicles to meet the 2030 climate change targets.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said, “presenting Budget 2022 has required some difficult decisions and a fine balancing of priorities. When considering the financial resources available, the Council had to reconfigure the budget to ensure there was no impact on service delivery for 2022. Sound financial management and prudence in previous years ensured the Council built up reserves for purposes such as playground improvements, burial ground extensions, and ICT infrastructure. However, the expenditure provided for in Budget 2022 exceeds the projected income, leaving a gap that must be bridged. Every effort has been made to support businesses throughout the last 12 months while the modest rates increase has been designed to ensure a minimum impact on ratepayers while priortising continued service delivery and growth.”
Source: Cork County Council