DESPITE the economic impact of Covid-19 and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Limerick City and County Council is to increase its spending by €14.39million next year to a record €857million, most of which is to spent on housing assistance payments.
All 40 councillors agreed that €659 million of next year’s budget would go towards the running of the HAP Shared Services Centre, which is based in Limerick, and collects rent from HAP tenants on behalf of 31 local authorities.
It was also agreed there would be no change in the annual commercial rates, and there would be a continuation of support schemes for small businesses, the tourism sector and vacant property allowances.
Covid-19 specific supports, including online digital vouchers and business continuity vouchers, were also agreed.
Financial support for festivals and events have been scaled back in recognition of the impact that Covid-19 restrictions will have on the sector. However funding levels are being maintained for “key cultural organisations”, including the Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art, as well as the local culture and arts programme.
Opening the budget meeting, Mayor Michael Collins said it had “no doubt been a difficult and challenging number of months, with the economy impacted due to Covid restrictions.
“2020 has seen significant Covid related supports from Government administered through our local authority in the form of restart grants, rates waivers and LEO supports, and a community helpline has provided invaluable assistance to vulnerable citizens during the lockdowns”.
Council chief executive Pat Daly said the budget had been framed against a prolonged health crisis and a potential no-deal Brexit, yet despite these issues the economic outlook for Limerick continues to be positive.
“Job creation and investments are continuing and Limerick remains one of the top performing investment locations in Ireland.” Mr Daly said that €6.61m was budgeted for insurance costs in 2021, which is an increase of nearly two-thirds in the past six years.
“This in part is down to the large number of legacy claims, although the Council has seen a significant drop in number of claims in the past two years, due in the main to a stronger and robust defence of claims and improvement work on ‘hotspot’ areas.”
The Council’s revenue budget works in tandem with its capital budget of €251.6 million that will be primarily focussed on escalating projects such as housing construction, a revitalization of O’Connell Street, the Coonagh to Knockalisheen Road; group water schemes; the Great Southern Greenway; the Opera site; dereliction; town and village renewal and local infrastructure housing activation funding.
€49.14m Roads, public lighting, road safety and traffic management
€12.1m Rental accommodation scheme and leasing
€8.5m Housing maintenance, Traveller accommodation and estate management
€11.4m Fire and Rescue Service
€4m Library Service
€3.94m Local Enterprise Office
€3.7m Street cleaning and illegal dumping
€2.6m Grass cutting, maintenance of parks,trees and horticulture