Laois County Council County Hall in Portlaoise.
Laois County Council has signed off on its biggest annual budget spend ever.
Almost €89 million will be spent running the county in 2022, but the chief executive warns that it will be another year of financial "uncertainty".
"As we strive to pull through the pandemic of the past 20 months, it remains the case that there is a backdrop of uncertainty to the planning and preparation of the 2022 revenue budget for Laois County Council," CEO John Mulholland says in his budget report.
He said that increased vacancies in businesses are "inevitable", causing a further loss in commercial rates income, and notes that the council cannot collect commercial rates from businesses who operate online.
The uncertainty is based on the unknown future of the Covid-19 virus and its impact on the local economy and on wellbeing. It also stems from Brexit and from the government's increased debts.
The council got almost €7 million from Government last year to support it through Covid, but that is expected to tail off, despite a continued fall in local revenue and a rise in costs including from energy, construction and support of local businesses.
The 2022 spending he says will continue to try and stimulate business and community growth, but is also a "steady as you go" budget, given "the relatively unprecedented and unpredictable environment in which it has been prepared".
The council expects to pay for the year using over €9 million from Local Property Tax, €14.66 million from commercial rates, over €40 million in Government grants and almost €24 million in goods and services.
Their two biggest spends in 2022 will be €23 million on roads and €19.75 million on housing. Among other costs will be €9.7m on development management, €8 million on environment, €4.36m on recreation and amenities and €1.9 million to operate library services. The fire service will cost €892,000.
County councillors approved the draft budget at a meeting on Monday November 8, proposed by Cllr Willie Aird, seconded by Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.
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