PARKING AND LEISURE CENTRE FEES TO RISE
Commercial rates will stay the same but parking and leisure centre admittance fees are set to rise next year following the Fermoy Town Council budget for 2009.
Speaking to members of the council, town manager Tom Stritch conceded that the framing of this year’s budget was a ‘difficult task,’ citing a 7% reduction in funding from the Government, the increases in gas and electricity charges and the need to reduce payroll costs by a minimum of 3% with a number of pressing issues facing the local authority.
While on-street and hourly car park charges will not increase in 2009, the cost of annual, monthly, weekly and daily discs for Fermoy’s car parks will increase. Annual costs will rise from €332 to €400, a monthly discs will go up €8 to €42, weekly charges will cost €15, up from €11.70 and daily parking will increase from €2.70 to €3.50.
The rise in parking costs will go towards making up the shortfall in expected income from fines. In 2008 Fermoy Town Council budgeted for an expected €35,000 income from parking fines.
For 2009, however, Mr Stritch said the council could not expect that level of income based on 2008s performance and so budgeted for an expected €25,000 in the twelve months ahead.
Meanwhile the struggling Fermoy Leisure Centre is to raise its prices by some 10% over 2009 to tackle the ‘widening’ year on year gap between the facility’s income and expenditure.
“The ever increasing running costs of a facility such as Fermoy Leisure Centre has made it increasingly difficult to break even on a yearly basis,” Mr Stritch said, adding that the installation of a geothermal heating system did not yield the savings anticipated for the facility. The predicted cost of maintenance for the centre for 2009 is €570,000, up almost €60,000 from 2008. To reflect this the town council hopes to bring in an extra €28,000 through the increase in fees.
The leisure centre will also benefit from the €7,000 redistributed to it from conference expenses forgone by Cllrs Seamus Coleman, Michael Hanley, Peter Merrigan and Brian Power.
Cllr Michael Hanley took issue with the increase, noting that patrons of the leisure centre pool had already been notified of the rise in fees before the matter came before the council for approval.
He added that councillors should be allowed to see the specific increases proposed rather than vote on a ‘vague’ 10% rise, a point supported by Cllr Seamus Coleman.
“I will not support an increase unless I know where the increases are going to,” the Sinn Fein councillor said.
Mayor Tadhg O’Donovan said the increases proposed are at the discretion of the management of the leisure centre and asked that the council show its faith in that management.
Councillors Hanley and Coleman also disagreed with the annual cost attributed to the loan charges on the courthouse. While the overall loan deficit is at some €2million, €187,000 will be paid off the facility in 2009.
The town council’s environmental program was narrowly voted in by three votes to two, with some councillors unhappy with the ‘escalating’ costs of street cleaning. The figure for street cleaning is up almost €13,000 to €271,000, with the rise attributed to the cost of replacing the street sweeper.
Mr Stritch told the Council that the reduction in payroll will be achieved by not replacing Town Council employees who are to retire and by ending the contract with one temporary employee who was due to finish in 2009.
The overall budget was passed by four votes to nil, with four abstaining from the vote and Mayor O’Donovan’s casting vote not called upon.
Friday 19th December 1:56pm