In one of the toughest budgets ever, Waterford County Council adopted an estimate of €69.2 million to run local authority services in the county in 2011.

The annual rates meeting in Dungarvan on Friday last heard that the budget was a slight increase on the expenditure of €68.7 million in 2010 and was due mainly to providing extra funds for housing and rental accommodation.

Savings were made in reduced spending on roads, parks, beaches and burial grounds and by not filling staff vacancies. The meeting was told every effort would be made to minimise the impact of the cuts on the public. Commercial rates would remain the same as last year and refuse collection prices would be reduced for the service to remain competitive.

Waterford County Manager Ray O’Dwyer said 2010 had been a very difficult financial year for the Council and income streams across services continued to decline, particularly in areas of planning and waste management.

The budget was framed against a backdrop of one of the most difficult economic and fiscal environments faced by the country. The reduction of development contributions had placed further restrictions on the Council’s capital plan. From now on, VAT would apply to waste collection and recycling services as well as off-street car parking and library facilities next year.