Waterford Council in race against time to plug €1.2m Budget hole
Time is running out for Waterford City and County Council to pass a budget for 2020 as they look to plug a €1.2 million funding gap.
And it appears the local authority’s plans to increase commercial rates by 5% will fail to attract the support of a majority of councillors.
Waterford councillors have requested a meeting with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in a last-dtich attempt to get his department to make up the budget shortfall.
However, the clock is ticking and after tomorrow’s Annual Budget meeting councillors will have just two weeks to find the €1.2 million needed to balance the books. In the worst case scenario, if they cannot reach agreement, the council could be dissolved.
The local authority had been looking at a budget shortfall of €3.2 million for next year, which was caused by the Government’s revaluation of the council’s assets. One of the areas Minister Murphy’s department revalued was the Irish Water assets in the council’s possession.
Last week, following extensive lobbying by local TDs, senators, souncillors and the local authority executive, Minister Murphy granted an extra €2 million to help Waterford Council to bridge the budget gap.
This leaves a shortfall of €1.2 million. And it left Waterford City and County Council CEO Michael Walsh with a stark choice: to reduce spending on local services or increase business rates and local authority housing rents.
Mr Walsh chose the latter. However, it is understood the majority of councillors will not support Mr Walsh’s plan to hike rates and the council has just 14 days from tomorrow evening to pass a budget for 2020.