October 19, 2021

LATEST: Emergency meeting as Waterford Council faces €3m budget leak

An emergency meeting has been called to discuss the shortfall caused by a revaluation of the rates paid by Irish Water as Waterford Council faces a €3 million hole in its budget.

When the company was launched in 2013, the newly amalgamated Waterford City and County Council was able to charge it more than €4m for utilities that previously had no rateable value.

It appeared that this bonanza would be lost when water charges were abandoned and the rates scrapped, but in 2015 the Government introduced a compensation scheme.

It is now proposed to re-introduce the rates under 2017 Water Services Act but a revaluation has cut the income for the council from €4.5 million, based on the 2013 valuation, to an income of just over €1.1 million. No compensation has been offered.

In a letter to councillors, Michael Walsh, the council’s chief executive, said: “There is not a clear indication of what support will be available and it is certainly clear that the quantum of money necessary to offset the total loss to affected authorities is not available.”

Mr Walsh said the impact for Waterford was greater than anywhere else in terms of the overall rates base . “WCCC’s loss (reflects) about 13.5% of actual rates income versus not more than 4% from any other authority,” he said.

“This anomaly simply reflects the specific coincidence of timing of our revaluation process and the Irish Water formation in 2013.

“The only other authority similarly affected is Dublin City but our relative position is much worse given the extent of overall rates income in Dublin.”

Mr Walsh said he intended to appeal the decision but was uncertain of the outcome.

In his letter he said: “There is an opportunity to appeal the global valuation (or the Irish Water element) but it is difficult to see how the basis for valuation could be shifted in the instance of one authority as distinct from across all councils.

“Notwithstanding this I am minded to do so and also to appeal the basis for apportionment of the total Irish Water rates (being done on a population basis) given the unique circumstances prevailing here.”

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