Proof that austerity has not gone away emerged today in Laois where county councillors voted to increase the commercial rate on business to balance books for 2017.
Politicians refused to increase the local property tax this year but today voted to force shops and other employers to pay more to county hall.
Councillors voted by by 11 to six to the 3% increase. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voted together - Sinn Féin, Labour and Independent councillors. Cllr Padraig Fleming, Fianna Fáil, and Cllr Dave Goodwin, Fine Gael, abstained.
In advance of the vote Laois County Council's Chief Executive John Mulholland issued the stark warning to councillors as they considered what to do.
"Put simply unless Laois County Council can identify a new stream of funding or increase revenue from an existing income stream it will not be possible to present a balanced Revenue Budget for 2017.
"There is a requirement to generate additional revenue of €370,000 in order to match expenditure across all activities. Given that there will be no increase in Local Property Tax nor the Equalisation Fund it is apparent that an increase in commercial rates must be fully considered," warned the chief executive.
Commercial rates have been frozen for eight years in Laois and the manager presented figures which show that the county takes less in rates and water charges than any other council in Ireland.
He also presented the backdrop to council finances. This year Laois will have total income of €56.7 million which compares with €73 million in 2008. Council staffing has been cut by a quarter or 114 since 2008.
The manager said gross expenditure for next year is €59.2 million an increase of 4% on 2015.