Fingal County Council has adopted a budget of €269m for 2020 to provide services and investment designed to improve the county as a place in which to live, work and invest.
It is an increase of €32m from 2019 and is the equivalent of €911 per head of population. The 2020 Budget will enable the Council to continue managing the on-going demands of the fast-growing and youngest county in Ireland.
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Eoghan O’Brien said: “The budget process began as soon as the new Council came together in June and I want to acknowledge the work done by my colleagues on the Corporate Policy Group as well as the staff in the different sections of the Council. Despite the challenges we faced we have still been able to provide for a modest increase in services which shows that Fingal County Council is a well-run and prudently-managed Council.”
Almost €5m has been ring-fenced for additional investment in local services such as street cleaning, parks maintenance and other operational activities as well as housing and homelessness. This sum includes the €2m raised by the decision by councillors in September to only reduce the Local Property Tax by 10%.
At the Budget meeting, councillors decided to apply a 40% refund on vacant commercial properties to provide funding for a number of areas including Climate Action projects and parking enforcement.
“This is the third year that our councillors agreed not to reduce the Local Property Tax by the maximum 15% and that has allowed us to spend an extra €2m per year on services that directly improve the areas where our citizens live,” said Fingal County Council Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly. “It is a significant amount of money and will mean that by the end of 2020 we will have spent an additional €6m, that we would not have had otherwise, on a variety of improvement works in our towns and villages.”
An additional €200k has been set aside in the Budget to provide support for remedial works to community facilities which are not in the Council’s ownership. This is in response to issues which have been highlighted by councillors in recent months.
Three key core objectives have been set out in the 2020 Budget. The main priority is to continue investment in the Housing and Community areas as well as maintaining service delivery and continuing to develop the economic and community plan for Fingal which supports job creation, tourism and sustainable communities.
The €269m Budget can be broken down as follows:
- €73.6m – Housing and Building;
- €28.6m – Road Transport and Safety
- €18.5m – Water Services
- €24m – Development Incentives and Controls
- €47.7m – Environmental Protection
- €45.2m – Recreation and Amenity
- €1.1m – Agriculture, Education, Health and Welfare
- €31.0m – Miscellaneous Services
The 2020 Budget has allowed for increases in several key areas across the Council. This increased expenditure provides for significant investment in the County and builds on the investment made in previous budgets.
There will be an increase in the funding of capital improvement works in the social housing stock as well as additional funding for traveller estate improvement works. There is also an increase in housing adaptation grants.
The Budget allows for increases across several areas within Operations including road maintenance, public lighting, traffic management and street cleaning. There is also additional funding of €200k for costs under the Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024.
A capital provision of €2m has been provided towards the funding of the Swords Cultural Quarter. This underscores the Council’s commitment to this key flagship project to deliver a County Library and Arts Facility in Swords. These is also more funding for heritage properties and expansion of events activities.
Ms Farrelly said: “It is vital that as the County continues to grow and that the services, infrastructure and facilities provided by the Council keep pace with this. This is reflected in the 2020 Budget and also our three-year Capital Programme 2020-2022 where we are committed to spending a further €619m on 236 individual projects across the county.”
The recent rates revaluation carried out by the Valuation Office has resulted in a rates reduction for 77% of rate-payers in Fingal. The revaluation process has created a financial risk for the Council around a possible reduction in rates income arising out of the appeals process. In order to mitigate this, the Council has a reserve of €21.8m in the 2020 Budget to provide for this risk in the future. This reserve is funded by a combination of the Council’s own resources and a mechanism in the Rates Limitation Order which allows for the inclusion of an amount to mitigate against future rates income losses. The Council has created this reserve without impinging or reducing services to the public.
A copy of the draft 2020 Annual Budget can be viewed at https://www.fingal.ie/council/service/annual-budget
The Council debate on the 2020 Budget can be viewed at https://fingalcoco.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/451730