At Waterford City Council’s annual estimates meeting on Monday night, criticism was directed at abusers of the bin
collection waiver scheme and at town centre property owners for rental overcharging.

On a night when the members managed to retain the waiver scheme despite the dire financial climate and to restrict the commercial rate increase to 0.6 pc, Cllr Mary Roche accused certain families of failing to make full disclosure in claiming free waste collection and some property owners of greed, claiming they were forcing small traders out of business by charging unaffordable rents.

It was as a consequence of the latter, she
maintained, that so many shops were now empty. It was a pity, she said, that instead of a zero rating the local authority wasn’t allowed double the commercial rate for empty premises, or impose some equivalent charge in order to encourage rent reductions.

Regarding waivers for bin collection, she said that with unemployment on the rise they were in danger of reaching a situation where almost 50 pc of houses would require to be ‘carried’ by the ever dwindling remainder. Appealing to City Manager Michael Walsh to insist on sterner examination of people’s waiver applications, she submitted that the current trend was totally unsustainable and genuine cases would lose out if the scheme had to be dropped. As it is, 4,600 households have been granted waivers.

Most difficult

Faced with what the Manager described as the most difficult financial situation in twenty years, the members were obliged to bridge an €8.555 million gap in a €63 million budget.

With that aim, Mr Walsh proposed a payroll reduction of €1.7m, a cut in service provision and in future developments amounting to €3m, a reduction in community and cultural supports of €0.2m and increases in income of €3.7m.