car parkParking charges in the city and Tramore are unlikely to change in the coming year.
At a special meeting of the Metropolitan District to consider the budgetary allocations for 2017, City & County Manager Michael Walsh said cuts will have to be made in the overall budget but recommended no change in parking costs.
With Waterford’s local authority budget ‘not looking overly positive’ for 2017, Mr Walsh nonetheless said “pressure on businesses and households” should be taken into consideration Councillors decide upon parking charges. In 2016, these charges brought in €1.49 million in the city and a further €100,000 in Tramore.
Though the Metropolitan District doesn’t have the power to alter decisions made by the plenary Council in terms of the overall budget, it does have the capacity to change local charges.
The primary potential in that context is to alter parking charges.
Mr Walsh reminded Councillors that any variation to parking charges would impact on expenditure in the Metropolitan District in the coming year.
Mr Walsh said he had anticipated an upturn in the city and county’s finances next year but this was not the case. However he expected an improvement next year of around €600,000.
The cost of insurance is becoming a serious issue for the local authority, he said, with Waterford Council facing an increase of between €400,000 and € 500,000 this year.
Noting that there was ‘money in dirt’, Cllr Cha O’Neill (Ind) raised the possibility of the Council re-entering the market as a waste disposal company again.
“Look at the hassle caused by five or six lorries coming down the road of housing estates every week. Then there’s the problem of illegal dumping on roads that the Council has to clear up anyway. For years waste disposal was an opportunity to earn an extra few quid.”
However Mr Walsh said there was “no way” the Council would be getting “back into” the waste disposal industry since it would require significant capital investment.
Responding to a query from Cllr Mary Roche (Ind) on how the Metropolitan District’s budget compared to the rest of the county, Mr Walsh said there had been a funding decline of around €4 million in the five or six years prior to 2014 with a reduction in funding of up to 40 per cent in significant areas like roads since 2008.
This was paralleled with a reduction in local income such as rates and bad debt provision, which had only stabilised last year. “On this front, we would hope to get a reasonably steady level of buoyancy in the next few years.”
One benefit of the city and county amalgamation was an increase in overall Local Government funding in 2014 and this had been sustained, Mr Walsh noted. “There have also been savings of a million or a million and a half and this has been distributed across the three areas.”
On foot of a suggestion from Cllr Davy Daniels (Ind) that potential savings existed in public lighting and transport, Mr Walsh said lighting was tendered at a national level every two years while the Council’s fleet of lorries was generally leased as this was a better option than outright purchase.
Replying to Cllr Pat Fitzgerald’s (SF) query where a potential increase in income could be made next year, Mr Walsh said a notable number of previously empty premises were now occupied and this would contribute to rates, while there were also a number of new businesses coming on stream.
Provision in the budget had not been made for a new public convenience at the Greenway or at the Eco Park, Mr Walsh told Cllr Joe Kelly (Ind).
However the Council was looking at an agreement regarding the use of public conveniences with property owners close to the Greenway, including the new Carriganore complex.
Despite a historic agreement with the Kingfisher that people using the Eco Park could use the toilets in the sports complex, Cllr Kelly said a number of people had been told that this was not a public facility.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) noted that last year’s Purple Flag for the city centre was conditional on the provision of a new public toilet at John Street.
He was told that the new public realm works in that area would provide funding for this. Cllr Mulligan was also told that there is no viability in a previous proposal to charge for parking in Dunmore East.