City has extra €575K to pay back in wages

City has extra €575K to pay back in wages

Cllr Thomas Gould.

CORK City Council must find more than half a million euro to restore the pay of its public servants.

The cash-strapped local authority has been hit with a bill for €575,000 after central government opted to bring the public service pay restoration forward from September 1 to April 1.

Local authorities have been informed that the addition five months of pay will not be reimbursed.

The pay increase, which equates to €1,000 per annum for staff earning less than €65,000, was due to kick in on September 1, 2017, under the Landsdowne Road Agreement.

This initial bill had been written into the city's budget for 2017, which saw commercial rates hiked and some services cut as the local authority struggled to balance its books.

This latest move has been slammed by elected members, who say that it undermines the entire budget process, leaving city officials struggling to plug another gap in the city's finances.

Sinn Féin's Thomas Gould said, "The government is forcing Cork City Council to cover funding that we didn't factor into our budget. This happened last year with the rates revaluation and it is happening again in 2017.

"Our budget doesn't stand up to scrutiny because of changes made by other people. Where do they propose we find this money?"

The move will directly impact frontline services, according to furious elected members.

Former Lord Mayor, Cllr Chris O'Leary said, "It makes a total mockery of any budget plan. We are constantly forced to pick up the tab for bad government decisions - we never get a penny back for these charges.

"We don't have the resources to fill in potholes in my ward - what are we going to do about that?"

Independent Kieran McCarthy backed the Sinn Féin members in their anger.

"How can we plan ahead if we are going to be cut in the middle of the year?," he asked.

"We have a balanced budget - it's clear that the government don't and we need to make a stand against it.

"Where does this money come from? Housing? Roads? Cuts to St Patrick's Day and Christmas?"

Fianna Fáil's Seán Martin said that everyone in the city feels the impact of these decisions.

"The concept that this money has to come from local authorities is just wrong. We have no budget for laneway closures, traffic calming, estate resurfacing, non-national roads or footpaths; it's just not happening.

"We have no input into this. We are reacting all the time to this agenda."

A spokesperson for the city's finance department said they are in discussions with central government to ease the burden on the local authority, though the government has previously stated that it will not reimburse the local authority for the charges.

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