The decision by Tipperary Town Council not to increase their commercial rates for 2013 means that they have the fourth lowest rates in the country, members were told at their annual budget meeting.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of approving the budget and all paid tribute to all the Management and Staff of the Council for their hard work throughout the year. However some of the members expressed their disappointment and disillusionment with the current Government.
Town Manager Claire Curley stressed the challenges facing them in the coming year and the constraints in drawing up a budget which has seen a significant reduction in income since 2008. She explained that funding from Government has dropped 32% since 2008 from â‚¬963,253 to â‚¬651,444 and Road Grants has fallen 30% from â‚¬279,000 to â‚¬195,000. Ms. Curley said that it was a very difficult budget but she had endeavoured to balance it in as fair and equitable manner whilst at the same time maintaining the existing levels of service and employment.
She said that in light of the adverse trading conditions in the town, the Council would not be increasing the Commercial Rates for 2013 and it will remain at 52.20 (the same as for 2009/2010/2011/2012). The total income from rates is estimated at â‚¬1,159,739 or 29.95% of the total revenue income for the Town Council.
In relation to Water Charges, the members were told that due to the substantial completion of the non-domestic metering programme and in line with National Policy in relation to increase the standing charge for each meter in 2013 to â‚¬150 per annum. At the same time it is intended to reduce the minimum charge. The current minimum and fixed charges are â‚¬220 for water and â‚¬250 for water and wastewater. For 2013 the minimum charge will be â‚¬150 for water and â‚¬150 for water and waste water. The minimum charges are inclusive of the Annual meter charge.
There will be no increases in car parking charges and the burial ground charges will also remain the same.
Reflecting on the year gone by she said that there were positives such as the sale of the Pall factory, the opening of their new Civic Offices and the new Decentralised offices. She said they were also delighted to able to contribute to local projects and amenities in the town particularly the Excel Project to which they were providing approximately â‚¬4,000 this year. Other projects that benefitted last year were the Tidy Towns, Tipperary Hills and the CJ Kickham Band.
Ms. Curley said she wanted to take the opportunity to express our appreciation to the present Mayor Ruadhri Devitt and the previous Cllr. Jacqui Finnan and to each Councillor for their assistance and co-operation over the past twelve months. She also paid tribute to the Town Clerk Paul Murray and the Town Engineer Aidan Finn and their staff, both indoor and outdoor for their cooperation and for the manner in which they carried out their duties throughout the year.
Acknowledging the difficulties in compiling the budget, Mayor Devitt paid tribute to the Staff and Management of the Council in their endeavours to maintain the high level of service to the community with the constraints that are on them. He said that it was worth mentioning the hidden costs for services such as street cleaning which cost â‚¬100,000 and other services such as burial grounds, fire service and the provision of amenity grants.
Under Housing and Building, the main concern was raised by Fianna Failâ€™s Cllr. John Hartnett in relation to the Property Tax. He asked if the Council had made provision for this as he understood from a recent announcement by the Minister for the Environment that the Council would be liable for this Tax.
Responding Town Clerk Paul Murray said that they had no details in relation to this and therefore could not include them in their estimates.
Town Engineer Aidan Finn said that a Town Traffic Management Plan had been submitted to Minister Leo Varadkar. Mr. Finn said that he had put it forward as a three year phased project with the implementation of a one way system on the Main Street.
â€œI have seen one way systems in this town previously and they were situation chaotic,â€™ interjected Cllr. Denis Leahy. Acknowledging that there had been difficulties previously, Mr. Finn assured the members that they would go through the full public discussion when the time came. He also informed the members that there were plans afoot to link Rossmore Village with the town and also to remedy the Roundabout on the Dundrum Road at Rossmore Village and they hoped to start work on that in January.
In relation to Environmental Services Cllr. Mary Swords sought clarification in relation to Fire Services Charges. She said that many people were under the impression that if they called the Fire Service if they saw a house fire that they would be liable for the charge. Town Manager Claire Curley explained that the charge is levied to the person to whom the service is provided.
On the issue of refuse collection Cllr. Leahy demanded that Minister Hogan outline a waiver scheme for elderly people for this service as he had promised earlier this year as he said there were many elderly people who could not afford this service and no scheme as yet has been announced.
All the members of the Council voted in favour of the budget, however a number of them took the opportunity to express their disillusionment and disappointment with the Government. Cllr. Denis Leahy led the charge saying that while he was approving this budget because â€œit had his finger prints all over it, it still had all the hallmarks of a Government Budgetâ€.
Independent Cllr. Jacqui Finnan also used the opportunity to vent her anger at the government whom she said had hit the usual targets in the weak and the vulnerable while their own wages and pensions had remained untouched. However she said that she would be voting for the budget as it was the responsible thing to do.
Expressing his disillusionment with a Government he said had lied to people and continued to lie to people, Labour Cllr. Billy Bourke said he would be recommending this budget as he loved his town.
â€˜We should do like the Germans did after the two World Wars and renegotiate our terms to be spread over 90 years and be the bad boys of Europe for a change. Stop kissing Angela and licking up to her,â€™ suggested Cllr. John Hartnett.
All nine Councillors voted in favour of adopting the proposed budget and adopting the commercial rate.