BUY a Christmas gift of the household charge and help ease the financial burden on cash strapped Laois County Council.
That was the festive message of Cathaoirleach Paul Mitchell as councillors unanimously passed their 2013 budget at Aras an Chontae yesterday. Spending is being slashed by €5.78 million, from €65.688m in 2012 to €59.908 for 2013. The actual spend this year was €63.38m.
“The best Christmas present you could give someone is to pay for their household charge. If people don’t pay it now the Revenue Commissioners won’t be as kind when it comes to collecting it,” commented Cllr Mitchell.
He revealed that if 400 more householders paid the now €130 charge it would boost Council coffers by €66,000.
Fine Gael’s Cllr James Deegan also beat the household charge drum. “If 41% of Laois people had to to carry out their civil obligation and pay their charge, we’d be in a better position. People may think they are ‘doing’ the Government, TD’s or councillors. They are not. They are ‘doing’ the people we make representations on behalf of.”
Cllr Marty Phelan got in on the act too. “We’ve less money because some members are actively encouraging people not to pay. They should hang their heads in shame.”
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Alan Hand angrily replied, “It could rise to three times that charge next year.”
Head of Finance Gerry Murphy outlined how €130 was collectable by Laois Co Co and next July it passes over to Revenue to collect any arrears up to €200 and the new Property Tax.
County Manager Peter Carey suggested the budget was fair. It provides for €59.9m revenue spending, €13.1m less than five years ago.
He was ‘relieved’ the cut to their Local Government grant was just 0.91%. A grant of €13.07m is budgeted for, a reduction of €111,724 on the 2012 amount of €13,189,788. Mr Carey added, “We’d a Local Government grant of €19m in 2007/’08 so it is a serious reduction.”
He said one hundred staff were gone out of the organisation and cost saving measures of up to €5m had been achieved.
There are no increases in commercial rates (€64.63) or water charges (supply €0.96 per 1000 litres & waste water €1.45 per 1000 litres).