Laois County Council took in over €9million in rates in 2012, more than €1m than they raised in 2009.
Finance Officer and Deputy County Manager, Gerry Murphy said it had been one of the best years for money collected for the council since 2009, with the council reporting a surplus of over €5,000 at the end of last year.
Although loan arrears have increased by €150,000, water arrears have reduced by €160,000, Mr Murphy said he hoped the increase in rates was a sign of the economy stabilising.
“It’s very difficult to get money in,” Mr Murphy told the council, “We are working with loanees to help them get a handle on their individual difficulties. The rates have increased this year again, I think things are beginning to level off. It’s been the council’s best year for money collected in the last few years.”
“We hope that this is a sign of stabilisation, we are working closely with people and coming up wait rate repayment plans or paying one year’s rates over 15 months,” he explained.
The head of finance praised his staff for their hardwork and explained that the council are now reporting straight to the IMF in Europe. He said the council finances required almost weekly reviews now.
Mr Murphy reported decreases in carparking, water, waste and pensions having had more staff retirements last year than exepcted.
“Car parking is down about €160,000, income from water was down €155,000, waste was down €110,000, while pensions cost around €200,000. The local government fund was also reduced by €409,000 as a result of the household charge.” Mr Murphy said these were mitigated by an increase in the non principal property charge of €146,000, a grant for the DBO of €116,000 and €150,000 from public bodies.