Fingal County Council has adopted a budget of €286m for 2021 which will ensure that services are maintained and enhanced into next year. It represents an increase of €16.3m from 2020 and is the equivalent of €966.78 per head of population.
The Budget provides for increased expenditure in a number of key areas and also makes a level of provision for possible adverse effects due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Council’s finances.
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David Healy said: “I am glad that we have been able to pass a strong budget that responds to the circumstances we find ourselves in. The Council's prudent approach to financial management over the last number of years has put us in a position to massively restructure the Council's operations in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we prepare for the uncertainty of 2021, we have adopted a budget which will ensure our services are maintained and improved and which will enable us, responding to demand from our citizens, to provide new facilities and to carry out maintenance, particularly in active travel, in housing, and in parks and open spaces.
“I want to acknowledge the work done by the Chief Executive and the staff in the different sections of the Council in preparing the budget and the commitment of all of the Councillors including my colleagues on the Corporate Policy Group in bringing their expertise and analysis to the finalisation of the budget in the challenging circumstances of online meetings."
There is no increase in rates in the 2021 Budget. The Annual Rateable Valuation set in the 2020 Budget, following the periodic countrywide revaluation of rateable properties, resulted in a rates reduction for approximately 77% of ratepayers in Fingal and followed a period of zero nett commercial rates increases in the period 2010 to 2019.
In September, Councillors agreed, for the fourth successive year, to reduce the Local Property Tax by 10% rather than 15% and this has provided an extra €2m in each of the years to be allocated for services that directly improve the areas where citizens live.
“It is a significant amount of money and will mean that by the end of 2021 we will have spent an additional €8m, that we would not have had otherwise on improving the fabric of communities throughout Fingal.” said Fingal County Council Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly.
The €286m Budget can be broken down as follows:
- €80.22m - Housing and Building;
- €30.28m - Road Transport and Safety
- €18.92m - Water Services
- €22.21m - Development Management
- €47.53m - Environmental Protection
- €47.99m - Recreation and Amenity
- €1.34m - Agriculture, Education, Health and Welfare
- €37.87m - Miscellaneous Services
The Budget includes provision for a number of roles funded by the National Transport Authority to assist in the delivery of Active Travel infrastructure such as cycleways while there is also a strong commitment to further investment in the Climate Change Action Plan which was launched last year.
The Budget has allowed for increased expenditure on road maintenance, road safety and street cleaning as well as additional provision for the development of Skerries Library and further investment in digital libraries.
Increased funding has also been provided to support the Council’s heritage properties and tourism offerings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while a capital sum of €200,000 has been allocated to the Our Balbriggan project to start building a fund to meet the Council’s match-funding requirement. It is anticipated that this project will be 75% funded by European Union’s Regional Development Fund and the 25% by the Council.
Budgetary provision has also been made for other projects across the county such as the Swords Cultural Quarter and there is also provision for a continued subvention for Draiocht in Blanchardstown. Other sums have been allocated to ensure ongoing maintenance of the housing stock and support non-Council owned Community Centres.
Ms Farrelly added: “The Budget was prepared in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. It allows for the continued provision of key services as well as providing several budget increases. We have also made provision for the possible negative financial impact on the Council following on from the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this Budget gives the Council a firm foundation as we navigate through 2021, the pandemic does present a very significant level of uncertainty so the financial impact on the Council will be continually monitored throughout the year.”
A copy of the draft 2021 Annual Budget can be viewed at https://www.fingal.ie/sites/default/files/2020-11/draft-annual-budget-2021.pdf
The Council debate on the 2021 Budget will be available to view at https://fingalcoco.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.
NOTE TO EDITOR
Fingal County Council
Fingal County Council is the Local Authority for the administrative county of Fingal. Fingal is located to the north of Dublin City and is also bordered by South County Dublin, Meath and Kildare, and to the east by the Irish Sea. The county covers an area of c. 448 sq. km. Fingal has a population of 296,214, making it the third most populous local authority area in the country. Fingal is Ireland’s fastest growing county having seen its population grow by 8.1 per cent since 2011 and almost double over a 25 year period, from 152,766 in 1991 to 296,214 in 2016. Fingal’s significant economic advantages includes Dublin Airport, fast access to Dublin Port, rail, road, power and telecommunications infrastructure and the availability of serviced and unserviced land for development. Proximity to Dublin city centre and its location on the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor, ensures continued future growth for Fingal.
The Budgetary Process
The budgetary process is a statutory process, undertaken annually by all local authorities.
The process defines the income and expenditure for the Council for the coming year.
Budgetary policy is determined in consultation with elected members, officials and with consideration to the estimates of funding available through the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and in particular the Local Property Tax allocation. There is also a public consultation process in relation to the Local Property Tax.
The elected members of Fingal County Council have a number of key functions in relation to the budgetary process.
- Adoption of the Budget
Members may adopt the Budget with or without amendment and must approve the sums provided for transfer to the Capital Account
- Local Property Tax
The Members have the power to vary the Local Property Tax Rate (Local Adjustment Factor) by plus / minus 15 per cent. This is decided at the September meeting of the Council.
- Commercial Rates
Members decide on the determination of Annual Rateable Valuation which decides the Commercial Rate which is charged to local businesses.
- Rates on Vacant Properties
The members also have the power to determine the proportion of rates refunds which will apply to vacant commercial properties.