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Council funding cut due to household charge shortfall

Story by Laura Ryder

Thursday, 29th November, 2012 3:00pm

Council funding cut due to household charge shortfall

Offaly's low household charge payment compliance rate has led to a reduction of €121,648 in its latest allocation from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

Councils countrywide saw their quarter four general purpose grant payment from the local government fund (LGF) split in two, with the first half paid regardless of household charge compliance rates, but the second payment amount dependent on them.

Offaly's deduction comes on top of a €386,784 reduction in its quarter three payment, again due to low household charge payment compliance rates. Hope remains, however, that with 60% of those liable for the household charge in Offaly reportedly now having paid, some of the recent losses might be clawed back.

Back in late September, when Offaly's household charge payment compliance rate stood at just under 55%, Environment Minister Phil Hogan outlined that only councils with compliance rates of 65% or more would receive their full second half quarter four payment. Councils with compliance of between 60% and 65% were to have half a per cent shaved off their annual allocation in the final payment of the year, while those with compliance of less than 60% would see a full per cent reduction.

In recent weeks Offaly has moved ever closer to a 60% compliance rate. A spokesperson for the council said compliance hit 60% in the past week, but clearly that was not in time for final LGF distributions. A spokesperson from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government confirmed a deduction of €121,648 - or one per cent of the annual allocation - had been applied to Offaly's final payment.

Offaly County Council's finance chief Declan Conlon was unavailable for comment today (Thursday), but a council spokesperson suggested the most recent deduction could be reversed once the council shows the Department that compliance has hit 60%. A Department spokesperson confirmed that there is "still an opportunity to recoup some of the losses in the first quarter of 2013".

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