In spite of the continued difficult operating environment and reduction in income levels, the Council has approved a Commercial Rates freeze for the 6th consecutive year.
The Annual Rate of Valuation (ARV) has been set at €72.99, the existing County Commercial Rate. The overall rates income for 2015 is estimated at €42.4 million. Of this total 85% relates to the former County area while 15% relates to the former Town Council areas.
Commenting on the approval of the 2015 Draft Budget, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cllr. John Crowe said the freezing of commercial rates is “a significant achievement considering the financial strains under which the local authority continues to operate.”
He added: “I would like to congratulate the Chief Executive, staff of the Finance Department, Corporate Policy Group (CPG) and my fellow elected representatives for their pragmatic yet positive approach to formulating and approving this Budget.”
Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Mr. Tom Coughlan said the 2015 Budget includes a series of measures aimed at “supporting the business community and stimulating economic activity within the county”.
He continued: “The provision of the measures outlined in this Budget are the result of months of close cooperation between the various Council Departments, the CPG, staff and Elected Members in terms of achieving efficiencies and cost savings which have not only helped to offset the income reductions experienced but have also enabled continued investment in services that impact on the day-to-day lives of the people of Clare.”
“The scale and rate of change which the Council has experienced during 2014 is unprecedented. The reforms could not have been introduced without the commitment and dedications of staff at all levels within the Authority,” added Mr. Coughlan.
Key Points from Clare Budget 2015 and Capital Programme 2015-2017:
Transportation – The Budget has been prepared on the basis that road grant allocations in 2015 will be in line with the initial 2014 allocations. A recommended solution with regards to Blake’s Corner in Ennistymon is expected to emerge in early 2015 and go forward to the planning process. Other targets for 2015 include the completion of the Doolin Pier project, continuation of works under the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme, and the preparation of a schedule of storm repair and coastal defence strengthening works in line with available funding.
Tourism – Clare County Council’s bid for the National Diaspora Centre, implementation of the EU Life Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Project, Doolin Pier Visitor Services Building, possible acquisition of Holy Island and Implementation of a visitor management plan, Ballycuggeran facilities upgrade, and upgrades/improvements at Loop Head Lighthouse and The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.
Housing – Capital investment in local authority construction or acquisition, Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), leasing and the voluntary sector will continue to play a major role in social housing provision during 2015. 6 units will be provided under the Social Leasing Scheme (SLS) during 2015. The 2015 budget provides for ongoing essential maintenance works at similar levels to 2014 (1,946 maintenance calls were logged in respect of 1,117 properties). The Council will continue to work in partnership with the Department of Social Protection to deliver homelessness services such as assistance with the retention of tenancy, sourcing rented accommodation, seeking emergency accommodation and providing financial assistance. Almost 400 persons have been assisted in 2014 in Homelessness clinics.
Burial Grounds – Site investigation works will be carried out to identify a location for a new burial ground for Ennis and environs.
Cultural – Progress the planning of a library and ancillary services for Ennis and Clare.
The Budget for 2015 shows gross expenditure of €99,350,124.