Council tourism budget slashed

Members of Laois County Council will agree on their €55million budget at next Monday’s monthly council meeting.

Members of Laois County Council will agree on their €55million budget at next Monday’s monthly council meeting.

For the first time in over five years, the council can report a slight budget increase on the previous year having an extra €1million to spend in 2015, compared to 2014.

The Head of Finance and acting chief executive, Gerry Murphy has also taken into consideration the general municipal allocation of €380,000 to be spent in the three district.

Mr Murphy said he had allocated the amount to footpaths, traffic calming, radar speed detection signs, new public lights a and community projects in accordance with the councillors wishes, agreed at their meetings in October.

The new local authority shared service centre, MyPay, commenced operation in October 2013 and so far the implementation plan remains on time and within budget, according to Mr Murphy.

“Plans are already well advanced to continue the rollout to a further 15 local authorities in 2015 as part of the three year implementation plan,” Mr Murphy said in his budget summary.

However, despite the extra money, the tourism budget has been slashed by €82,000 for 2015. The tourism development and promotion have seen a decrease from €240,000 to €158,000 next year.

The council have also signed a 12-year service level agreement with Irish Water and is in the process of finalising the annual service plan.

Mr Murphy said the draft budget has been prepared on the basis that the full cost of water services provided by the Council will be recouped.

A total of €3.8million has been set aside for water services - while the council plan to receive just over €5million for water services in 2015.

The council also received an increase of over €1.5million in their social housing investment programme for the acquisition of 17 social units, including three properties for families with disabled persons.

The council have set aside €173,000 for unfinished housing estates - an increase of €17,000 on last year’s allocation. In total, over €10million has been set aside for housing and building for 2015.