Businesses will have to wait until January 6 to find out what commercial rate they will have to pay in 2014 after Westmeath County Council was forced to adjourn Monday’s annual statutory budget meeting.
The reason for the adjournment was that the council only received confirmation on Thursday night of what next year’s funding from central government will be, which delayed the completion of the draft budget until Sunday night. Legally the draft budget has to be issued to councillors seven days before it can be formally adopted.
Speaking at the meeting acting county manager Barry Kehoe explained to councillors that while the local authority had received its allocation from Irish Water “just over a week ago”, it only received the Local Government Fund allocation (from the Department of Environment and Local Government) on Thursday night. He added that it took council staff a “substantial amount of work” to get the budget balanced in time for Monday morning’s meeting.
The councillors decided to adjourn the meeting until January 6 when the 2014 commercial rate can be struck.
Minister Phil Hogan claimed last Thursday that funding for local government is going up next year with Westmeath receiving €22,936,486 for 2014, an increase of €2,226,482. This figure includes the General Purpose Grant for the day to the day running of the council and the “gross water costs that will transition to Irish Water ”.
These “gross water costs” include payments to the council from Irish Water for the delivery of services and commercial rates, and other “water related costs” that the local authority would “otherwise have had to meet from their own resources, will be funded centrally by Irish Water”. At least part of the payments from Irish Water will come from income generated from the local property tax.
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