CASH-STRAPPED Fingal County Council is set to have its Government funding cut by over €2 million due to the knock-on effect of unpaid household charges.
In a letter to councillors seen by Northside People, Fingal County Manager David O’Connor warned that services will be cut as a result.
The cut represents 10 per cent of the council’s yearly allocation from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.
The department informed the council that the cut is based on the level of compliance (57 per cent in Fingal County Council’s case) achieved to date from household charge payments.
It is proposing to reduce the Quarter 3 payment of €5.1 million by €545,285 and will review the remainder of the proposed reduction of €1,635,855 in Quarter 4, taking account of the financial position and progress on securing an increased household charge yield.
Mr O’Connor told councillors: “This is extremely bad news for this local authority, with many of our income sources continuing to be under pressure.
“My Finance Department are currently engaged in a comprehensive half yearly budgetary review with all directors and I am expecting a report on the outcome of this review within the next week.”
Mr O’Connor added: “Without pre-empting the outcome of this review it is inevitable, in view of the size of this reduction, and the requirement on us to maintain a balanced budget, that there will be an impact on service provision.”
A spokeswoman for the council told Northside People that despite the reduction in funding there are no proposals under consideration to reduce staff numbers given that Fingal’s headcount has been slashed by 200 in recent years.
She reiterated that the revenue generated from the household charge is an essential element of funding for local services.
“It is the responsibility of all property owners liable for the charge to register and make payment and make their contribution to the delivery of local services,” she told Northside People.
Malahide ward councillor Peter Coyle (Lab) argued that those who have paid the household charge should not suffer as a result of those who refused to pay it.
“A major problem for compliant payers is that they will be asking why they should be impacted by cuts in services, like the library facilities,” he stated.
Cllr Coyle believes that the current mode of collecting household charge payments is flawed.
“The existing charges are 'attached' to properties,” he said.
“A change in the collection process via Revenue can follow up on outstanding payments in future.
“As a local councillor, I am concerned about the potential further cuts in services in the current year.”
Homeowners who have not yet paid the €100 charge have so far incurred a late payment fee of just €14.
Meanwhile, Dublin City Council is facing a potential funding cut of over €4.6 million for this year.
According to a spokesperson for the council, it was recently informed that its original Local Government Fund allocation of €54,805,761 will be reduced by a maximum of €4,691,839 in 2012.
“However, the final amount will be revisited and reviewed by the Government in Quarter Four to take account of the then financial position including progress on securing an increased household charge yield,” the council spokesperson stated.
“The city manager will meet with the elected council to discuss this in September.”
Local councillor Ciaran Perry (Ind) claimed the Government is desperate to counter the hugely successful campaign against the charge.
“Over e1million of the cuts will be implemented this quarter (in the Dublin City Council area), leaving an already cash-strapped council facing uncomfortable choices in relation to further cuts in services,” he said.
“Further cuts to their stretched budgets will only exacerbate this situation and local community facilities will find themselves under threat.”