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Kildare County Council

Minutes of Budget Meeting held at 11.00 am on Wednesday,
12 December 2007 at Áras Chill Dara, Naas, Co. Kildare

Members Present:  Councillor M Glennon (Mayor), Councillors P Black, F Browne, K Byrne, W Callaghan, G Conway, M Dalton, L Doyle, S Doyle, F Dukes, D Fitzpatrick, S Griffin, R Hendy, B Hillis, P Kelly,
T McEvoy, G McDonagh, J McGinley, M Miley, M Nolan,
F O’Loughlin, JJ Power, K Ridge and B Weld.

Apologies:  Councillor P McNamara

Also Present:  Mr M Malone, County Manager; Mr E O’Sullivan, Deputy County Manager, Messrs J Boland, J Lahart, P Minnock,
D Page and T. Skehan, Directors of Services, Ms F Millane, Acting Head of Finance, A C Talbot, Meetings Administrator and other officials.

_____________

Consideration of Budget

Due notice of the meeting and of the preparation of the budget having been given as required by law, the Council considered the draft budget for the year ending 31 December 2008.  The draft budget proposed expenditure of €135,194,343.00 and a rate of €69.12.

The Mayor welcomed all the members to the meeting and thanked the Manager and all those involved in the preparation of the draft budget.

The Manager summarised his formal report on the budget which had been circulated to the members and also brought to the notice of the members the fact that the document detailing the capital programme 2008/2010 had been circulated to them at the meeting.  The Manager advised the members that in preparing the budget for 2008 he was mindful of the challenges facing the county resulting from significant population growth over recent years.  The Manager informed the members that this was the last year the budget would be prepared in the current format as a new costing system would come into effect from 2009.  The Manager made reference to the estimated expenditure by programme group and the estimated sources of income for 2008 as set out in the budget. 

The Mayor thanked the Manager for his report and advised the members that it was intended to deal with the budget by Programme Group.

 
Programme Group 1 – Housing and Building

Mr P Minnock, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group, referring in particular to the budgets for housing maintenance, the central heating programme, community initiatives, the RAS Scheme, proposals for Disabled Persons Grant and Essential Repairs Grant Schemes and Traveller Accommodation. 

During the debate on this programme group, members raised the following issues:
· Proposals for central heating programme welcomed.
· Acknowledged work of Community Workers and requested that additional staff be appointed to augment this service.
· Concerns about the transfer of the Special Housing Aid for the Elderly Scheme, currently administered by the HSE, to the local authority.
· Rental Accommodation Scheme.
· Part V land transfers.
· Maintenance of local authority houses.
· Turnkey developments.

Mr P Minnock addressed all the issues raised by the members. 


Programme Group 2 – Road Transportation and Safety

Mr D Page, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group advising the members of some issues including, local and regional road maintenance and health and safety requirements. 

During the debate on this programme group the members raised the following issues:
· Inadequate signage on routes throughout the county.
· Concerns regarding maintenance of roads and green areas within estates taken-in-charge by the council.
· Traffic calming, particularly outside schools.
· Increased funding for Road Safety/School Wardens welcomed.

Councillor Kelly requested clarification as to whether the cost of traffic calming could be incorporated in the capital budget.  Ms Millane advised that this was possible, however, a source of funding would need to be identified.

Mr D Page addressed all the issues raised by the members.


Programme Group 3 – Water Supply and Sewerage

Mr J Boland, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group, advising the members that a relatively small budget increase was proposed for public water supply and highlighting that increased maintenance costs relating to wastewater treatment were reflected in the budget. 

Ms F Millane, Acting Head of Finance, advised the members that a reasonably low increase of 6% was proposed in relation to charges for water and stated that the proposed increase reflected the costs related to the programme group and not just the rate of inflation.  Ms Millane informed the members that the County Manager was proposing to give an allowance to community groups and charitable organisations, in relation to charges for water, in line with the domestic allowance applicable to commercial customers and farmers. 

During the debate on this programme group, the members raised the following issues:
· Infrastructural deficit in relation to wastewater treatment.
· While proposed allowance for community groups and charitable organisations was generally welcomed, some concerns were raised about the cost of the standing charge to such groups.
· Concerns about proposed 6% increase in water charges.

 Mr J Boland addressed the issues raised by the members.


Programme Group 4 – Development Incentives and Controls

Mr J Lahart, Director of Services, and Mr T Skehan, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group relevant to their Directorates. 

Mr Lahart informed the members that the Urban and Village Renewal Scheme had now concluded and no further funding was available from central government.  He also referred to the budget proposals for taking-in-charge of estates and stated that it was intended to use this funding to deal with issues arising in abandoned estates.  He informed the members that it was anticipated that there would be a slight decrease in income from planning applications during the coming year.

Mr Skehan referred, in particular, to the following areas which form part of his Directorate; Athy and Kildare Heritage, Gateway Innovative Fund, Disability Access and Usaid na Gaeilge.

During the debate on this programme group, the members raised the following issues:
· Concerns that budget proposals for taking-in-charge of estates would not meet the costs.
· Unauthorised development, with particular reference being made to unauthorised neon signs.
· Effect that reduced income from development contributions may have on budget.
· Effect of deficit in wastewater treatment in some parts of the county on development.
· Budget allocation for Athy and Kildare Heritage welcomed.
· Increased allocation for Twinning welcomed.
· Cost of provision of security at Wonderful Barn, Leixlip.
· Increased allocation for Tidy Towns welcomed.
· Roll-out of Broadband.
· Gateway Innovation Fund.

Messrs J Lahart and T Skehan addressed all the issues raised by the members.


Programme Group 5 – Environmental Protection

Mr J Boland, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group.  Mr Boland made reference to the costs relating to civic amenity sites at Silliot Hill and Athy, remediation work at Silliot Hill and the work of Litter Wardens throughout the county.  He advised the members that the draft budget incorporated a provision for alternate fortnightly collection of residual and dry recyclable wastes. 

Mr Boland circulated a draft discussion paper to the members relating to improvement of street sweeping operations and briefed them on the main recommendations incorporated in the report.

Ms F Millane, Acting Head of Finance, briefed the members in relation to proposed changes to the waiver scheme for refuse charges outlined in the draft budget.  She stated that in line with the proposed change to the refuse collection service it was proposed to review the criteria applicable to Kildare County Council’s waiver scheme. It was also proposed to carry out a series of spot checks in order to confirm the validity of a sample of the declaration forms submitted.

During the debate on this programme group, the members raised the following issues:
· Civic Amenity Site in Kilcock
· Burial ground maintenance grants
· Future burial ground requirements
· Draft discussion paper on street sweeping welcomed.
· Enforcement of litter laws, particularly with regard to fast food outlets.
· Competitiveness of Kildare County Council’s refuse collection service.
· Derelict sites.
· Civic Amenity Centre in Athy.
· Kildare County Council’s waiver scheme for refuse charges.
· Consider introduction of a Helpline to deal with queries associated with waiver scheme for refuse charges.
· Proposed brown bin scheme.
· Fly tipping
· The need for a National Waste Regulator.
· Fire Service

Mr J Boland addressed all the issues raised by the members.


Programme Group 6 - Recreation and Amenity

Mr T Skehan, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group outlining proposed increases in budget provision.

During the debate on this programme group, the members raised the following issues:
· Leisure Services staff complimented for their work throughout the year.
· Budget provision for development of Lough na Mona Park welcomed.
· Library Service complimented, with particular reference to Leixlip Library and the Ideas Matter programme.
· Position regarding new library for Kildare Town.
· Parks/Landscaping budget.
· Walking Routes.
· Community halls maintenance.
· Public parks, with particular reference to possibility of progressing discussions in relation to St John of God’s site in Celbridge.
· Roll-out of Youth Cafes.
· Lantern Building.
· Bawnogues site in Kilcock.

Ms Eimear McGinn from the Library Service informed the members that the Deputy Mayor recently accepted an Excellence Through Accessibility Award from the National Disability Authority, on behalf of Leixlip Library.   She also informed the members that Leixlip Library had been short listed for a Best Public Building Award from LAMA.

Mr T Skehan addressed all the issues raised by the members.


Programme Group 7 – Agriculture, Education Health and Welfare

Mr J Boland, Director of Services, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group relating to his Directorate and Mr C Talbot, Meetings Administrator, dealt with all other aspects of the Programme Group.

During the debate on this programme group, the members raised the following issues:
· River Drainage, with particular reference to the Slate and Lerr Rivers.

Mr J Boland and Mr C Talbot addressed the issues raised by the members.


Programme Group 8 - Miscellaneous Services

Mr C Talbot, Meetings Administrator, gave details of the draft budget in this programme group. 

During the debate on this programme group, the members raised the following issues:
· Dog Pound
· Dog Warden Service
· Consider electronic tagging of dogs.
· Register of Electors.
· Customer Care Service, with particular reference to telephone service.
· Training and Development Programme for staff.

Mr Talbot addressed all the issues raised by the members.

The members discussed the proposals incorporated in the draft budget in relation to possible changes to Kildare County Council’s Refuse Waiver Scheme.
Resolved on the proposal of Councillor J McGinley, seconded by Councillor K Byrne, with eleven members voting in favour and nine members voting against, that the waiver scheme remain the same and that the €7 tag be increased to €8 and the €5 tag increased to €5.50 to recoup the cost.


Adoption of Budget

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Hillis, seconded by Councillor Power, with twenty members voting in favour, no member voting against and no member abstaining, that pursuant to Section 103(7) of the Local Government Act 2001, Kildare County Council do hereby adopt for the financial year ending 31 December 2008 the budgets set out in tables A, B, and C of the draft budget presented to the Council and do hereby determine in accordance with the said budget the annual rate on valuation set out in Tables B and C to be the annual rate on valuation to be levied for that year for the purposes set out in those tables.

The meeting concluded.