Local councillors have agreed a €83.56 million budget for Kilkenny in 2020, giving their unanimous backing for a slightly amended version of the draft budget on Monday.
The €83.5 million — up from €79.7 million for 2019 — investment is being made across the board – economic development, roads, housing, parks, presentation of the city and county, and the provision of grants for amenities, arts, festivals and tourism.
Recommending its adoption to members, Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council Colette Byrne said overall, it was a fair budget, and it strikes a good balance, keeping costs on businesses at a reasonable level. She thanked all the members for their input and council staff for their work.
Addressing the members, the council’s head of finance Martin Prendiville said the budget would not have been possible without the decision taken in September to increase the basic rate of Local Property Tax (LPT). This generated an additional €1.1 million income.
Kilkenny is a net beneficiary of the Local Property Tax, having paid €1.5 million and receiving €3.42 million from the equalisation fund.
“The additional income was critical in terms of achieving a balanced budget for 2020, and has enabled funding levels to be maintained and increased in some areas, on discretionary expenditure which directly benefits communities throughout the city and county,” said Mr Prendiville.
While in recent years, the council has managed to reduce its arrears, commercial rates arrears are up by half a million euro, which Mr Prendiville attributed to the revaluation process.
The ongoing valuation tribunal appeals remain a cause for concern. Around 24% of the council’s rate demand is under appeal.
In the vast majority of appeals, there has been a reduction for the ratepayer. So far, it has resulted in a loss of €500,000 to the council’s coffers, and if it continues in the same vein, estimates put the final figure around €1.1 million — “a significant challenge for us”.
“We are going into 2020 now and the issue is still not resolved,” said Mr Prendiville.