CASHEL Town Council has unanimously adopted a budget for next year which sees no increase in commercial rates, parking charges and refuse collection, with the only increase in the area of metered water/wastewater charges.
Introducing the budget, Town Manager San Keating said that despite the harsh economic climate, the Town Council has managed to retain the range of services it now provides, at a time which sees reduced government support.
Mr Keating said he expected the annual allocation to local authorities such as Cashel to fall by up to 8% in the New Year, a drop he estimated to be from €619,100 to €567,190. This puts pressure on management to affect cost savings and budget reductions. As a result, the annual expenditure next year will fall by €283,365, to €2,785,349, or about 9.2% over provision in 2009.
"It is therefore clear that Cashel Town Council has responded to current economic difficulties by reducing its expenditure," said Town Clerk Marie McGivern. "This reduction has been achieved by... greater efficiencies, and a reduction in the numbers and pay of staff."
There will be no change in the Rateable Valuation Multiplier (RVM) for businesses. Parking Charges remain the same, with the current 20-minute free parking period continuing into 2011. This will be the subject of a review in the last quarter of 2011. Free parking will continue at the Council carpark adjacent to the Playground at Upper Friar Street. The Council also adopted a motion for free parking in the run up to Christmas.
The minimum charge for water only remains at €250. The minimum charge for water and wastewater will be reduced by €90 from €390 to €300. The volumetric charge for water only remains at €1.05 per 1,000 litres while for water and wastewater, there will be an increase of 10cent from €2 to €2.10. "There is therefore a reduction of €90 for the customer with water and wastewater facility paying the minimum charge," said Town Clerk Marie McGivern.
Cllr PJ Quinlan, a hostel owner, said this 10c increase will mean that for every rate payer who uses more than €400 a year in metered water, the new charges will cost them "between 5% and 10% extra in 2011", "caused by a doubling of the standard charge and a 5% increase in water charges."
In a statement, Cllr Quinlan added: "This increase will have a huge impact on restaurants, bars, hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs. Unfortunately, these businesses have seen on average a 40% drop in turnover during this recession. This increase in local government stealth tax will have an unwarranted attack on a vulnerable businesses."
Refuse also remains the same, with a fixed annual charge of €230, a Wheelie Bin Charge of 26cent per kg of waste, with the recyclable tag costing 85cent. The Council will continue to operate the waiver scheme for some households. Councillors noted that private refuse collectors do not provide this waiver.
Burial charges don't change, with Interment at €450; Gravespace at €450; and a charge of €150 for infants under 2 years of age. Also, the Council will impose the €200 "Non-Principal Private Residences Charge" (NPPR). The Council anticipates that about 300 properties will be liable for this charge in 2011.
The Budget was proposed by Cllr McCarthy and seconded by Cllr Moloney. Mr Keating added that the budget will continue to provide support for key events in 2011, including the Cashel Arts Festival, Christmas Lighting, and the Hosting of the EU Charter.
Free parking will be available to shoppers over the next two weekends in Cashel, it was agreed the meeting Cllr Joe Moloney, a local businessman,said the recent harsh weather had never been so bad for people and businesses in the town. A similar idea of free parking on certain days before Christmas had been successful in Tipperary town. Cllr Moloney said the Council should approve free parking for "two or three weekends" as had happened last year. "This week and last week, businesses were really hit hard in the town."
Cllr Dan Dillon supported the call. "Business has been decimated in the present weather. We should help and assist them in any way we can."
Mayor Michael Browne said it was something all the Councillors supported. "There will be a slight loss to revenue. But business people are unable to pay rates, so it's something we'd seriously ask the Manager to look at."
Town Manager San Keating said there would be an impact on income. However, "it was only the right thing to do". Shoppers and local people alike can look forward to free parking next Friday (December 10), and Saturday (December 11). This will be repeated the following weekend (December 17 and 18), along with free parking on Christmas Eve.