No change to rates in draft budget

No change to rates in draft budget
Donegal county councillors next week will review a 131.2 million euro draft revenue budget for 2015 that would not require rate payers to pay more than they did this year.

Donegal county councillors next week will review a 131.2 million euro draft revenue budget for 2015 that would not require rate payers to pay more than they did this year.

The council budget meeting is set for 10am next Tuesday, November 18 at County House in Lifford.

This is the first council budget to rely on the new Local Property Tax system, the first since the transfer of water services to Irish Water in January, and the first since the abolition of town councils and the transfer of County Enterprise Board functions to new Local Enterprise Offices.

In the 2015 draft revenue budget published this week, Garry Martin, council director of finance, said in his commentary that the draft was prepared in line with the Local Government Act, meaning no rate-payer will pay any more in 2015 than they did this year.

However, amalgamation of county and town council areas requires adoption of a harmonised rate for the county, and Donegal’s recommended harmonisation rate is 68.39 euro. Mr. Martin said councillors will consider the pace of harmonisation at each budget meeting, starting with next year’s meeting.

In his introduction to the budget Seamus Neely, council chief executive, said he is recommending creation of a small-business grant scheme to enable most small businesses to access an effective 5 per cent reduction on their 2015 rate bill. Mr. Neely said the scheme was in response to members’ requests for ways to assist small businesses in particular in reducing rates costs.

Mr. Neely also said he believed there was a need to return council in a measured way to a more normalised approach to recruitment and said the draft provides for recruitment of about 15-20 staff members in early 2015.