There is to be no increase in rates on commercial businesses for 2022 in Co Kerry, with a practical approach being adopted by council management, the annual budget meeting has heard.
"Significant" inflation costs along with continuing uncertainty over Covid have been factored into the revenue and expenditure of over €354m, councillors were told in Tralee today.
The budget for next year is being presented amid a backdrop of worry about rates collection and tourism downturn in the county where one in five jobs depend on the industry, and it may have to be reviewed in 2022, Chief Executive Moira Murrell told the meeting.
"Financial risk is still facing us next year, so the budget may be reviewed," Ms Murrell stressed.
The single biggest cost in the estimated expenditure of over €177m in Kerry in 2022 is payroll, the meeting heard.
The impact of national pay agreements between the Government and unions for public sector workers affects local government employees and has resulted in an increase in payroll costs of €6.26m on that of 2021, Finance Director Angela McAllen outlined.
While a certain percentage will be recouped from central government, the expenditure on payroll will amount to €76.1m, or 43% of the total spend by the local authority in 2022, ahead of all operational costs.
The council has around 1,350 on its staff and some 677 pensioners on its payroll, according to figures provided by the council.
The rates waiver is being paid to the council by central government, the meeting heard but councillors said the waiver should be continued for businesses in 2022.
A 7.5% increase in local property tax agreed this year was "critical" to the "unprecedented" €1.4bn rural and other regeneration schemes now progressing through design and delivery in towns and villages in Kerry, Ms Murrell said. Local property tax will bring in €14.8m next year.
On the revenue side, rates income is projected at €47.6m, and is the second biggest single revenue stream for the council after State grants of €63.1m. Irish Water is at €13.2m for works carried out by the council.
Parking fines and charges is accounting for a significant share of income each year with €3.2m the target on motorists in Kerry in 2022.
Parking charge and planning fees and other losses sustained in 2021 because of the pandemic are to be covered by central government, the meeting was told.
Today's budget meeting dealt largely with the council’s housing programme, and with other programmes to be dealt with later in the week. There is a target of 315 social houses for delivery by the council in Kerry next year.
However the pandemic put the council housing delivery for 2021 behind schedule and just 87 of the targeted 119 units for 2021 were fully completed because of the work stoppage of 13 weeks during Covid restrictions.