City faces ‘challenging’ budget vote

City faces ‘challenging’ budget vote

City Hall, pictured from the roof of the new Maldron hotel on South Mall. Despite financial pressures the spend in Cork city will increase to €166,843,900 in 2019. Members of Cork City Council will vote on the 2019 budget on Thursday. Picture: Denis Minihane

CITY Hall chiefs have described the preparation of the 2019 budget as ‘a challenging task’ due to continued pressure on income sources.

However, despite these pressures, the spend in Cork city will increase to €166,843,900 in 2019. Members of Cork City Council will vote on the 2019 budget tomorrow, Thursday.

The draft budget document details planned spending in the city next year. It includes a €2 million increase in housing spend, an increase in dedicated homeless support funds, and increases in roads, parks and other areas too.

There are planned increases to all but one of the council’s service divisions, with just the smallest division - agriculture - decreasing from €498,000 to €494,000. The €166m available this year is up from €160m last year and €152m in 2015 as finances gradually improve.

This year’s funds will allow City Hall to hire in a number of positions which have long been sought after in the city too, mainly in the remit of housing support, with four new housing officers, a vacant homes officers and three building inspectors all to be hired.

In the draft budget, City CEO Ann Doherty detailed the increase in income, noting it is the result of TII support for the Lower Glanmire Road project, payroll, roads grants, homeless funding, sports grants and an increase in development committee funding.

She continued: “This budget presents an increase in funding to housing and community (€2.1m), roads and transportation (€2.6m), and corporate and external affairs (€1m). These substantial increases have been provided to address higher costs and increasing demands in the larger spending directorates. The budget also provides funding measures aimed at addressing some strategically important areas that require specific attention.”

The budget includes ‘full continuation’ of arts, cultural and festivals programme and the enhancement of City Hall’s ‘input into leading the tourism development of Cork city’

Ms Doherty said: “The general economic climate and state of the national finances continues to improve. However many of our income sources continue to be under pressure, while increased demand for services... increases the pressure on city’s finances.”

The 2019 budget was prepared in the shadow of the ongoing boundary expansion. However, many of the details of this remain tightly under wraps, with just €600,000 allocated to cover staffing costs incurred over the next 12 months. 

“Apart from the allocation of €600,000, Cork City Council’s 2019 budget provides only for the cost of running the current boundary area. The cost of services in the transferable area is included in the Cork County Council 2019 budget," the report states.

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