House maintenance funds and sports and arts grants all face reduction because of City Hall income shortfall 

House maintenance funds and sports and arts grants all face reduction because of City Hall income shortfall 
Picture Dan Linehan

MONEY available for sports and arts grants as well as funding available for housing maintenance, among other services, looks set to be reduced in the short-term due to an income shortfall at Cork City Council.

Savings of €5.5m are to be made by the council between now and the end of the year to offset some of the loss of income the local authority faces die to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The anticipated income loss, excluding rates, has been revised down from €9.4m to €8.4m, but City Hall is set to make savings through “a series of expenditure deferrals and some reductions in budgeted non-pay expenditure”. Savings are to be made across four main general categories — housing, operations, customer care and placemaking, and corporate affairs. Almost €1.4m is to be saved on housing maintenance.

According to City Hall’s head of finance John Hallahan: “Some housing maintenance activity has not taken place due to the Covid-19 lockdown for the last two and a half months, which has resulted in some savings.

“Expenditure for the remainder of the year will be deferred until a later date. The housing capital programme is not affected and will continue as budgeted for 2020.”

Central Government has also announced €1m in the form of a vacant housing grant to assist in some housing upgrades in the meantime. It will funding being made available for vacant homes that can be restored quickly.

The city council can apply for a maximum €12,500 per property, to be spent on 80 vacant houses in the city.

Meanwhile, €1.6m is to be saved on operations, which includes parks management, road maintenance, litter management, parking management, and environmental services.

“Expenditure on these services is being deferred to later in the year and, similar to housing maintenance, there will have been a reduction in the services due to the two and half month lockdown,” Mr Hallahan said.

Just over €1.3m is to be saved in customer care and placemaking.

According to Mr Hallahan: “A significant portion of the original budget is discretionary non-pay so savings here will be achieved from the reduction in various grants such as sports and arts grants.”

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