Council to increase day-to-day spending on services in 2021 despite impact of Covid-19 crisis

Limerick City and County Council is to increase its spending by €14.39m on front-facing services for the people of Limerick in 2021 following unanimous agreement by all 40 councillors. A total revenue budget of €857.23 million was approved by councillors after a robust debate in Limerick Racecourse in Greenmount, Patrickswell today (Fri 27 Nov 2020).

The majority of the budget (€659.24 million) is for HAP Shared Services, which Limerick runs on behalf of the 31 local authorities, with the remaining €197.99m allocated to day-to-day services for the citizens of Limerick.

Faced with uncertain times due to the economic and social impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the beginning of Brexit, Limerick City and County Council will continue to provide the high level of services expected across the city and county.

Budgets for the following key areas in 2021 are:

  • Housing Maintenance, Traveler and Estate Management - €8.5m
  • Rental Accommodation Scheme/ Leasing - €12.1m
  • Local and Regional, Primary and Secondary Roads, Public Lighting, Road Safety and Traffic Management - €49.14m
  • Limerick Fire & Rescue Service - €11.4m
  • Street Cleaning and Illegal Dumping - €3.7m
  • Grass Cutting/ Trees and Horticulture, Maintenance of Parks - €2.6m
  • Local Enterprise Office – supports for the micro and SME sectors - €3.94m
  • Library Service - €4m

In addition to no change in the Annual Rate of Valuation for commercial ratepayers, the budget approved the continuation of the:

  • Small and Medium Business Support Scheme
  • Tourism Sector Support Scheme
  • Vacant Property Allowance Scheme
  • Business and Retail Incentive Scheme

These schemes are there to support businesses across Limerick city and county. LEO supports include Covid-19 specific supports including online digital vouchers and the business continuity vouchers.

There is a scale back of support for festivals and events recognising the impact that Covid-19 restrictions will have on the sector, however funding levels are being maintained for our key cultural organisations (Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art), and the culture and arts programme.

Opening the budget meeting, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Michael Collins said: “I’d like to thank all those involved in the framing of this budget. It has no doubt been a difficult and challenging number of months, with the economy impacted due to restrictions. 2020 has seen significant Covid-19 related supports from Central Government administered through our local authority in the form of Restart Grants, rates waivers and LEO Supports. Also the Community helpline provided invaluable assistance to vulnerable citizens during the lockdowns.”

“It is important to acknowledge the letter from Minister O’Brien and Minister Burke on the 12th November last where they restate the Government’s support for the local authority sector both in terms of the delivery of Government priorities and particularly in respect of the exceptional leadership shown through the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“It is important that this support continues into 2021 to ensure that our Council delivers services to our citizens and that those citizens can maintain confidence in the local government system and that we can continue to build on the significant goodwill towards it which has been enhanced by the response to the pandemic.”

Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council said: “This budget is framed against a prolonged health crisis and a potential no-deal Brexit. Despite these issues the economic outlook for Limerick continues to be positive. Job creation and investments are continuing and Limerick remains one of the top performing investment locations in Ireland.”

“Budget 2021 will actively allow for the further engagement with and support of our communities. It will address enhancing quality of life for our citizens by supporting new public realm projects and programmes across Limerick in our libraries, galleries, museums, and cultural and arts centres.”

“The draft budget 2021 has benefitted from very significant feedback from councillors in the budget process and has committed to further improve service delivery in the face of severe socio-economic challenges and the councillors’ decision to vary the rate of Local Property Tax has facilitated this commitment.”

Insurance costs are continuing to increase for the Council. €6.61m is budgeted for insurance costs in 2021, an increase of nearly two-thirds in six years. This in part is down to the large number of legacy claims made against the Council. However, the Council has seen a significant drop in number of claims in the past two years, due in the main to a stronger and robust defence of claims and improvement work on ‘hotspot’ areas.

The revenue budget works in tandem with the capital budget of €251.6 million.

Among the projects earmarked for funding next year include:

  • Housing Construction
  • O’Connell Street Revitalisation
  • Coonagh to Knockalisheen Road
  • Group Water Schemes
  • Great Southern Greenway Limerick
  • Project Opera
  • Dereliction and Reuse for housing development across Limerick
  • Town and Village Renewal
  • Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (Mungret)

You can view the budget here.

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