Dublin city budget of €917m biggest since 2009

Nearly 50% of budget increase to be absorbed by homelessness crisis

Dublin city councillors have approved a budget of €917 million for running the capital next year – the largest city budget since 2009 and €54 million higher than in 2017.

However, almost half of the budget increases next year will be absorbed by the homelessness crisis. More than €142 million is to be spent providing homeless services in 2018, a meeting of Dublin City Council heard on Monday night. In 2017 the council budgeted just over €119 million for this cost, although this has been revised upwards and is expected to reach €134 million by the end of this year.

Council tenants living in privately managed developments will face service charges of €2 per week for the first time next year. However, some 25,000 tenants in traditional council housing will not have to pay the charge.

The council has tenants in some 1,290 rented homes, mostly apartments, in developments which have annual management charges.

The average cost of the management charge for each tenant is €1,452 per year or €27.92 per week. In 2018 the council expects to be charged a total of €1.867 million in management fees.

Up to now these tenants have not been charged and the costs have been absorbed by the council. However from next year these tenants will have to pay €2 per week on top of their rents. This would bring in almost €134,000 in a full year, but will only be introduced in March securing the council just over €111,000 in 2018.

Businesses will see no increase in commercial rates next year, the meeting heard. Rates were increased last year by three-quarters of a per cent, the first increase since 2009. Rates were reduced year on year from 2009 to 2015 and held stable in 2016.

However, rates will be increased for owners of vacant buildings. Up to last year owners of empty commercial properties were entitled to a rates cut of 50 per cent. For 2017 the rebate was cut to 45 per cent, next year that rebate will be reduced to 40 per cent netting some €500,000 in additional funding for the council.

A Fianna Fáil proposal to increase business rates by 1.55 per cent to fund an affordable housing scheme was ruled out of order. More than 2,000 affordable homes could be built in the city over the next five years under the plan, the party said.

The levy would have been in place as an emergency measure for the next five years. However, the council’s head of finance, Kathy Quinn, said the motion was out of order because the money was not being used to fund a “definitive” cost.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times