Kildare County Council today (Monday 21st Nov) passed a €143m budget for 2017. Fianna Fail Councillor Rob Power who proposed the budget stated that the increase in expenditure would benefit housing and community projects most and that small businesses have also been protected.

“Budget 2017 for Kildare will see a €2m increase in the housing allocation. This will include increased expenditure on rent allowance and housing assistance and vitally, an increase of €600,000 (to €2.6m) on homelessness services in the county – a budget that has risen threefold in recent years.”

“Over the last few years the Fianna Fail group on KCC has been highlighting the need for the council to tackle the supply issue in housing by building units itself. We are delighted that social housing construction will begin again in a meaningful way with the first units beginning in Kilcock, Newbridge and Rathangan and that the Part VIII process is to start in Kildare, Prosperous, Athy and Sallins.”

Businesses in the county have been protected from an increase in rates for the eight successive year. Cllr Power says that maintaining the commercial rate is important in protecting small businesses.

“The rate system for all of its flaws is the fairest system we have. In 2017 KCC expect to receive €58m in commercial rates. €31m of this will come from the biggest 2% of companies paying an average of €250,000 each. On the other end of the scale you have 41% of companies paying less than €2,000. To give a direct discount on rates would mean reducing the bill on big business by far more than the little guy. So we had to look at other alternatives to tackling that”

What they council came up with last year was a “Shop Front Initiative” whereby main street businesses apply for a grant to improve their shop front. Councillor Power says it’s working;

“The response last year on this initiative was fantastic. It has been encouraging to see small businesses who are struggling on Main Street to get a little bit of help and it’s something that the council has decided to continue funding in Budget 2017.”

The Chief Executive Peter Carey welcomed the decision to pass the budget and commended members for setting aside €3.2m for spending on community projects and issues through Local Property Tax funding.