2008 Managers Report

KILKENNY COUNTY COUNCIL

DRAFT 2008 BUDGET

To the Cathaoirleach and Each Member of Kilkenny County Council

Dear Councillor,

Attached for your consideration is the draft 2008 Budget for Kilkenny County Council.

Overview

The total expenditure contained in the draft 2008 Budget amounts to €77.1 million, an increase of €10.4 million on the adopted 2007 Budget. The draft budget requires a rate increase of 5% which will provide additional funding of €530,000. Each 1% increase in rates equates to €106,000. Notification of the 2008 Local Government Fund allocation has not yet been received and accordingly an estimated 5% increase in local government funding of €1,071,000 is included in the draft budget.

The main factors influencing the 2008 budget are:

1. The 5% increase in funding from the local government fund .

2. The growth in pay costs arising from the "Towards 2016" national pay agreement.

3. The increased costs of energy, construction inflation costs at 3% and general inflation of 4.8%

4. The increased costs of water and waste water services, including the taking-on of the former Kilkenny Borough Council water services infrastructure now managed by Kilkenny County Council

5. The need to implement EU and national policy on water pricing.

6. The need to maintain and improve services having regard to increases in

population and in demand for services i.e. roads, water and waste water, planning, recreation and amenity, etc.

 

Broad Development Strategies

Any strategy for the development of Kilkenny must have regard to three principal strands of development (1) the development of the rural economy and the role and needs of the principal towns and villages and the surrounding rural areas (2) the development of Kilkenny city and its role as a hub in national and regional development strategies (3) the development of South Kilkenny and the development of the Gateway with the Waterford County & City Authorities.

In addition, particular attention must be paid to those economic sectors and strands which are central to Kilkenny's development i.e. agriculture and agri-business, tourism, arts & culture, retail development, the service sector, urbanism - urban design and good planning, third and fourth level education provision, manufacturing, port related services, financial services and Government services.

Under-pinning these sectors and strands are of course the provision of good transportation infrastructure, water, waste water and waste infrastructure and good quality of life facilities, services and initiatives.

Over the course of the coming years, the Council will seek to assist in the development of these strands and sectors and as a priority will seek to work closely with the Office of Public Works in the implementation of the Governments decentralisation programme for the Health & Safety Authority, for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and for the Arts Council.

 

Expenditure Increases in the draft 2008 Budget

The main areas of funding increase in the draft budget are as follow:-

  1. Housing - Provision is included for the implementation of the rental assistance scheme, housing maintenance, and housing adaptation grant schemes for older people and people with a disability. Total provision of €10.6 million - an increase of €1.2 million.
  2. Roads - increased provision for maintenance of the road network, provision for public lighting costs and provision for improved road safety promotion/education. Total provision of €19.8 million - an increase of €2.9 million.
  1. Water Services - this budget reflects higher treatment costs including energy and increased production. Total provision of €12.2 million - an increase of €2.4 million.
  2. Development Management - continued support for planning services and community initiatives. Total provision of €6.8 million - a decrease of €0.1 million. A new initiative is planned in this budget in relation to the setting up of a fund for a third/fourth level education facility.
  3. Environmental Services - the main expenditure in this area relates to Dunmore Landfill, general environmental services and the Fire Service. Provision has also been made for increased funding for litter control/street cleaning. Fire Service budgets include provision towards the implementation of the Fire Services change programme and the Framework for Major Emergency Management. Additional funding is provided for burial grounds. Total provision of €11.6 million - an increase of €1.05 million.
  4. Recreation and Amenity - Increased provision has been made for the operation of outdoor leisure areas including playgrounds and open space. Increased provision is also included for the Arts Programme and proposals will be further developed in 2008 for gallery, cultural and arts facilities.

Total provision of €4.9 million - an increase of €0.6 million.

  1. Agriculture, Education and Health and Welfare - increases relate to VEC pensions and Higher Education Grants. Total provision of €7.1 million - an increase of €2.2 million.
  2. Miscellaneous Services - includes council plant and bitumen stores, local elections, coroner expenses, motor taxation and members expenses. Total provision of €4.0 million - an increase of €0.1 million.
  3. Central Management - includes area office overhead, corporate affairs overhead, corporate buildings overhead, finance function overhead, human resources function, IT services, print and post room overhead, and pension and lump sum overhead. Total provision of €11.1 million - an increase (apportioned over service divisions A-H above) of €0.6 million.

A more detailed and comprehensive analysis on each service division is included later in this report.

 

 

Capital Programme

 

In July 2007, the members of Kilkenny County Council adopted a very ambitious multi annual capital programme. This multi annual capital programme projects the Council spending €1.7 billion between the years 2007 to 2012 on the provision of new fixed assets and the upgrading or expansion of existing assets, all which are required to meet the demand of a growing county. The envisaged capital expenditure will be funded primarily from government grants, development contributions, borrowings and the sale of assets.

The Council hopes to secure €1.5 billion in government grants to help fund the capital programme and it will need to raise approximately €280 million locally, whether from development contributions, sale of assets or annual Income & Expenditure Budget provision.

The programme provides the necessary infrastructure such as roads, water and environmental services to meet the needs of an expanding and flourishing county. The capital programme provides significant expenditure to enable the county to grow and develop its own indigenous industry and also attract new industry.

The draft 2008 Budget makes provision for the operational costs of completed capital schemes. Such costs include energy, insurance and maintenance etc.

 

Public Sector Pay Awards

The total estimated Income and Expenditure payroll costs (including pensions) for Kilkenny County Council in 2008 is €26.8 million. The annual staff/pension costs represent 35% of the 2008 draft budget. Given the labour intensive nature of local authority activities, this is considered to be a reasonable level for provision.

The modernisation and change agenda which forms part of the public sector pay requires changes and improvements to be made in work processes, flexibility of working hours, use of new technology etc. The change programme will continue to be fully implemented in Kilkenny County Council and verified independently by the

National Performance Verification Group. Key customer service initiatives introduced in 2007 include:-

  • Group Planning Clinics
  • Expanded Motor Tax opening hours
  • Water conservation tips campaign
  • An emergency call out and response service
  • Flexible working arrangements so as to provide planning, environment and library services in evenings.
  • Expanded environmental services
  • Review of the website and e-services.

It is proposed in 2008 to bring plans to the Council for the implementation of existing proposals for the improvement of customer services facilities at the County buildings.

 

Inflation

 

Over the past two years there has been very significant price increases in the goods and services essential to the Councils work programmes. The Central Statistics Office latest publication shows the annual rate of inflation (CPI) at 4.8% for the period to October 2007. The wholesale cost of building and construction materials rose by 3% in the year since October 2006.

Sources of Funding

The following chart shows the principal sources of funding in the 2008

Budget.

Commercial Rates

Commercial Rates

A rates increase of 5% has been projected in the draft 2008 Budget.

 

The contribution from commercial rates is 15% of the 2008 Budget income.

Increases in the local government fund and the funds raised directly by the Council in the delivery of services have in recent years become larger components of the annual budget.

 

Other Charges

While the 2008 budget provides for a continuation of a high level of service across all service divisions, every effort has been made to keep charges to the public as low as possible. It is proposed that the following charges will apply in 2008.

  • Landfill gate fees will be maintained at €130 per tonne plus government levy - €145 in total.
  • The Council will continue the phased implementation of the Water Pricing Policy. Commercial charges for non-domestic water will increase per M³ from €0.88 to €0.91. In non-domestic cases where the Council's waste water services are availed of, the charge will increase from €0.91 to €1.62 per M³. In accordance with national water pricing policy and EU requirements the charge will increase to the full cost price, €0.96 and €1.91 for water and waste water respectively, in 2009. In 2008 the extension of the water pricing policy will provide an extra €642,000 of income.

Strategic Policy Committees

The Councils five Strategic Policy committees Forward Planning & Development, Housing & Social, Environmental Policy Fire Services & Emergency Policy, Infrastructure, Transportation & Water, Arts Culture Heritage Tourism & Education have addressed major strategic issues facing the County under the Chairmanship of Cllrs Pat Millea, Tommy Brennan, John Brennan, Paul Cuddihy, and Ann Phelan. The SPCs are an important part of the Councils policy development process and they dealt with a very significant range of policy matters during 2007

Area Committees

The Council's five area committees of Ballyragget, Callan, Kilkenny, Piltown and Thomastown, under the Chairmanship of Cllrs Mary H Cavanagh, Tom Maher, John Coonan, Dick Dowling and Michael O'Brien, met quarterly, or more often as considered necessary by individual committees, to deal with issues relating to the delivery of services on an area basis. The area committees have addressed a range of road, traffic management, village renewal, community, environmental improvement and service issues for their localities in 2007.

Service Division

The attached pages describe and outline the main expenditure and income issues arising in each of the service divisions. The draft budget as prepared by the Management Team was examined and considered by the Corporate Policy Group.

 

Conclusion

I wish to thank all the members of the Council and the Cathaoirleach Cllr. Tom Maher and his predecessor Cllr. Billy Ireland for their continuing work to advance the county the members of the Corporate Policy Group and SPC chairs, Chairman Cllr. Tom Maher and Cllr. Anne Phelan, Cllr. Pat Millea, Cllr. Paul Cuddihy, and Cllr John Brennan and the chairs of the area committees, Cllrs. M.H. Cavanagh, John Coonan, Tom Maher, Michael O' Brien and Dick Dowling.

 

I also wish to extend my appreciation to the Directors of Services John McCormack, Tony Walsh, Philip O' Neill, John Mulholland and John Dempsey, Head of Finance and to all staff for their co-operation and assistance during 2007.

_______________________

J. Crockett,

County Manager.

Service Delivery at Local Area Level

 

During 2007, a huge amount of work was done at Local Area Committee level with members of the 5 electoral areas meeting regularly to focus on issues appropriate and relevant to their local area. As well as their role in allocation of funding and prioritisation of works within their electoral areas, the area committees have an invaluable function through the regular interaction with deputations they receive from local community groups. Reports from the Area chairs are given at the next County Council Meeting and keep the full Council informed regarding current issues within the areas. Amongst the issues discussed at area level in 2007 were:

  • Community policing
  • Estate management
  • Traffic calming scheme 2007
  • Road works scheme 2007
  • Allocation of the local portion of Development Contribution Scheme funding
  • Public lighting
  • Register of electors
  • Local Area Plans
  • Community involvement schemes

 

The area committee membership is as follows:

 

Kilkenny Electoral Area: (5 meetings)
Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick
Cllr John Coonan(Area Chair)
Cllr Marie Fitzpatrick
Cllr Martin Brett
Cllr Michael Lanigan
Cllr Paul Cuddihy
Cllr Malcolm Noonan
Ballyragget Electoral Area: (4 meetings)
Cllr MH Cavanagh(Area Chair)
Cllr Patrick Millea
Cllr Maurice Shortall
Cllr John Brennan
Cllr Catherine Connery

Thomastown Electoral Area: (6 meetings)
Cllr Dixie Doyle
Cllr Pat O'Neill
Cllr Tom Brennan
Cllr Ann Phelan
Cllr Michael O'Brien(Area Chair)
Piltown Electoral Area: (7 meetings)
Cllr Pat Walsh
Cllr Dick Dowling(Area Chair)
Cllr Cora Long
Cllr Catherine Phelan
Cllr Tomas Breathnach
Cllr Pat Dunphy
Callan Electoral Area: (4 meetings)
Cllr Tom Maher(Area Chair)
Cllr William Ireland
Cllr Matt Doran

SPC Committee Membership

SPC 1 - Forward Planning & Development Policy

SECTORNAME
ELECTED MEMBERS (7)Cllr. Pat Millea, ChairpersonCllr. Tom MaherCllr. Pat DunphyCllr. Dick Dowling.Cllr. Dixie DoyleCllr. Malcolm NoonanCllr. Tomas Breathnach
BOROUGHCOUNCILMEMBER (1)Cllr. Betty Manning
DEVELOPMENT/CONSTRUCTIONDenis Guilfoyle
ENVIRONMENT / CONSERVATION / CULTURE (1)Eileen Somer Ronan
AGRICULTURE / FARMINGKevin Connolly
COMMUNITY / VOLUNTARY / DISADVANTAGED (1)John Burke,
BUSINESS / COMMERCIALMichael Nolan
TOTAL (13)

SPC 2 - Infrastructure, Transportation, Water Services & Other

 

SECTORNAME
ELECTED MEMBERS (5)Cllr. Paul Cuddihy (Chairman) Cllr. Pat O'NeillCllr. Pat WalshCllr. Cora LongCllr. Maurice Shortall
AGRICULTUREFARMING (1)John Bambrick
COMMUNITY / VOLUNTARY / DISADVANTAGED (1)Eamonn Walsh
BUSINESSCOMMERCIAL (1)Deirdre Gough
TRADE UNION (1)Phil Funchion
TOTAL (9)

 

SPC 3 - ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY INCLUDING FIRE SERVICES AND EMERGENCY PLANNING

SECTORNAME
ELECTED MEMBERS (6)Cllr. John Brennan (Chairperson) Cllr. Pat FitzpatrickCllr. Catherine Phelan Cllr. Matt DoranCllr. Malcolm NoonanCllr. Maurice Shortall
ENVIRONMENT / CONSERVATION / CULTURE (1)Eileen Flynn
AGRICULTURE / FARMING (1)Michael Rice,
COMMUNITY / VOLUNTARY / DISADVANTAGED (1)Sean Fitzpatrick
BUSINESS / COMMERCIAL (1)Trish Finegan
TOTAL (10)

SPC 4 - Housing Policy

SECTORNAME
ELECTED MEMBERS (7)Cllr. Tom Brennan (Chairperson) Cllr. Catherine ConneryCllr. Pat O'Neill,Cllr. W. Ireland,Cllr. Martin Brett,Cllr. Cora Long.Cllr. Marie Fitzpatrick.
DEVELOPMENT / CONSTRUCTION (1)Ivan Shannon
AGRICULTURE / FARMING (1)Bill Madigan.
COMMUNITY / VOLUNTARY / DISADVANTAGED (1)John Burke
TRADE UNION (1)Yvonne Moriarty
TOTAL (11)

SPC 5 - Community & Social Policy, Arts, Culture, Heritage, Tourism, Education

SECTORNAME
ELECTED MEMBERS (5)Cllr. Ann Phelan, ( Chairperson). Cllr. MH Cavanagh, Cllr. Michael LaniganCllr. Michael O'Brien,Cllr. John Coonan
CORPORATION MEMBER (1)Cllr. Joe Reidy,
ENVIRONMENT / CONSERVATION / CULTURE (1)Emma Devine
COMMUNITY / VOLUNTARY / DISADVANTAGED (1)Breda MacDonald
BUSINESS / COMMERCIAL (1)Jackie Kennedy
TOTAL (9)

Housing and Building - Service Division A

 

 

Strategic Policy Committee

The Housing & Social Strategic Policy Committee met on four occasions in 2007 under the chairmanship of Cllr. Tommy Brennan. The principal matters discussed included the Housing Strategy Part V, Estate Management Policy, Disabled Persons Grant Scheme, Rental Accommodation Scheme, Traveller Horse Project and Interagency Co-operation - Services for Travellers.

 

Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities Policy Statement

A new policy statement for housing was launched in February 2007. It outlines a vision to transform the Irish housing sector over the coming years. It sets out a range of actions aimed at:-

Building sustainable communities;

Responding to housing need in a way that improves choice and tailors support taking account of the households position in the life-cycle;

Achieving effective delivery of housing programmes.

The document articulates a vision that puts an emphasis on community development, not just bricks and mortar. The aim is to have a high quality natural and built environment, a dynamic and innovative economy, good transport, supportive community and voluntary services and environmentally sound. It goes on to state that housing provision should

  • Meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment and contribute to a high quality of life.
  • Be safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run and offer equality of opportunity and good services for all.

Reference is made to the NDP provision of:

€12 billion for the delivery of social housing options for new households seeking social housing.

€4 billion in affordable housing measures and

€2 billion in neighbourhood renewal

The immediate challenges that this presents are:

  • An accurate identification of needs.
  • Expanding the range of options.
  • More efficient and effective use of increased resources.
  • Reviewing the support mechanisms to inform and assist.
  • Meeting the needs of increasing ethnic diversity.

Housing Need Assessment

The tri-annual housing assessment of need will take place in early 2008. This assessment gives the most accurate account of actual housing need on a county wide and national basis. It will involve a complete re-assessment of the entire housing list with analysis of the various categories. The assessment also requires notifying the members and alerting the public that those who have a housing need should apply for the housing service that they require.

Social Housing Provision

In the last year, social housing output for the County reached record levels. In all, 137 units were provided through our own construction programme and through the provision of units from Part V. This combined with 52 casual vacancies enabled Kilkenny County Council to accommodate 186 households in all.

The expenditure on social housing capital provision amounted to €26m in 2007. The construction/provision of houses will be funded by the Department from the 1/1/2008 based on a three year rolling programme. Each Local Authority will be notified of the funding for the three year period.

The planned maintenance programme on housing estates is now complete. There are a number of one off houses to be completed in 2008. The Council provided central heating to 31 houses during 2007. A major upgrade of our rural houses will commence in 2008. There are approx 180 houses to be improved. The works will include central heating, new doors/windows, fencing/gates/driveways and improvements to water services treatment systems. These works will take place over a number of years.

Community Development

Participation in Community Development by residents and tenants is evidenced by the dramatic increase in the number of community committees who are actively engaging with Kilkenny Local Authorities and this provides a solid foundation on which to base future co-operation. This number now stands at 48 from an initial 7 in January 2006.

Community Development initiatives from the past year include the launch of the Local Authority Tidy Estates Competition, the second annual Estate Management Conference, the completion of training funded under the Housing Management Initiatives Scheme 2006 to community committee members in Kilkenny City and the development of a FETAC level 5 Diploma course in Community Development and Estate Management which will commence before the end of 2007 and will offer accredited training as well as a professional qualification to voluntary Community Committee members.

Approved Funding under the Sustainable Communities Grant fund will also allow the recruitment of a Development Worker to assist and support the residents of St. Catherine's Halting site in the refurbishment of the Halting site and the provision of housing to these residents.

Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)

Kilkenny County Council now has a total of 249 units secured under RAS. In 2006 the Council secured 3 units from private landlords, this has increased to 52 in 2007. However, the rents being secured in the private sector have risen significantly in the last two months and these increases cannot be matched under the RAS Scheme.

Affordable Housing

The Council has 42 affordable units available for sale in 2007 across the County and has been very active in promoting this scheme. However, despite widespread publicity, the uptake on Affordable Housing has been slow.

Voluntary Housing

Kilkenny County Council continues to be very proactive in the area of Voluntary Housing. There are now 655 units provided by the Voluntary Housing Associations in the County. 34 new units were occupied during 2007 and a further 36 are under construction.

Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability

Following a review of the Disabled Persons, Essential Repairs and Special Housing Aid for the Elderly Schemes, a new framework of grant aid to assist with the housing needs of older people and people with a disability was introduced with effect from the 1st November 2007.

The revised framework of grant aid is as follows:

a Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability which will assist with the provision/adaptation of accommodation to meet the needs of people with a disability;

a Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme, which will assist with adaptations to address mobility problems primarily associated with ageing;

a scheme of Housing Aid for Older People, which will provide targeted support to improve conditions in the existing housing of older people;

Interagency Co-operation in the Delivery of Services and Supports to the Traveller Community

In late 2006 County and City Development Boards were requested to initiate the process of developing strategic plans to implement a co-ordinated interagency approach in delivering services and supports to the Traveller Community. They are also being tasked with overseeing the implementation of the plan. The request is coming from the "High level Group" of officials initiated by the Taoiseach.

 

Kilkenny CDB set up their Interagency Traveller Committee in July 2006. This group have developed a Local Action Plan for Travellers in Kilkenny which was also submitted to the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. The group have been working on implementation and have prioritised the Traveller Horse project and long term sustainable funding for a Community Development Worker with Kilkenny Community Traveller Movement.

Road Transportation and Safety - Service Division B

Strategic Policy Committee

The Infrastructure, Transportation and Water Strategic Policy Committee met on four occasions in 2007 under the chairmanship of Cllr. Paul Cuddihy. The principal matters discussed included the status of national and local roads, speed limit review, water services investment programme, school safety programme, road safety plan, traffic management and review of transportation directives in the draft County Development Plan.

2007 Road Surface Dressing/Re-surfacing

During 2007 the following surface dressing and re-surfacing of roads was carried out:

Non-national National Total

kms kms kms

Surface Dressing 149 6 155

Re-surfacing 74 6 80

_ 223 12 235_

Road Works Scheme 2007

Expenditure on all National Primary and National Secondary Road Improvement Works are included in the Capital Account and in the Road Works Scheme. The detail is not given in this draft Budget.

It is expected that the non-national road restoration programme will continue during 2008, but that grant receipts from the Department could be somewhat less than received during 2007.

The 2008 Budget proposes to maintain the local funding of non-national roads at the 2007 level of €2,815,000 which represents a €1,012,000 (56%) increase over the 2002 Budget of €1,803,000.

The Councils funding of local roads has increased to €8,115,000, an increase of €7,087,000 (690%) since its 1994 equivalent of €1,028,000. During this same period, the matching funding from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has increased to €15,098,000, an increase of €12,892,000 (584%) from its 1994 amount of €2,206,000. Local funding of €8,115,000 includes €5,300,000 in respect of development charge spending on local roads.

Roads Capital Projects and Improvements

M8/N8 Cullahill/Cashel

Construction work on the 40km section of motorway/dual carriageway commenced in November 2006, following contract signing in October, 2006. Progress on all aspects of this scheme is highly satisfactory to date. The Contractor for the construction phase is Roadbridge/Sisk. The estimated completion date of the scheme is Q3 2009.

M9/N9 Kilcullen / Waterford (Waterford/Knocktopher)

Construction work on the 23km section of high quality dual carriageway commenced in January of this year, following contract signing in November, 2006. The Contractor appointed on the scheme is Ascon Ltd and work is proceeding satisfactorily. The estimated completion date of the scheme is Q4 2009. The Environmental Impact Report, Part 8 Report and Compulsory Purchase Order for the R669 through Knocktopher (the interim link) have all been approved during the course of this year.

M9/ N9 Kilcullen / Waterford (Carlow/Knocktopher)

This phase of the Kilcullen to Waterford MIU scheme, in respect of which contract will be signed in December, will proceed to construction in early 2008. At 46km in length, this phase of the scheme will, on completion in 2010, complete the entire 110 km dual carriageway/motorway between Waterford City and Kilcullen. Work is currently underway on site clearance and settlements are ongoing with landowners as appropriate.

N24 Mooncoin By Pass

Work is underway to finalize the Environmental Impact Statement and CPO documentation in relation to 11 km of dual carriageway on the N 24.

It is planned that the route selection report and the above documentation will proceed to public consultation stage following approval from the NRA. There is no indication as yet of a multi annual funding programme for this scheme.

N25 New Ross By Pass

The route selection report, environmental impact statement and Compulsory Purchase order in relation to a new dual carriageway and new river crossing downstream of New Ross were published October of this year. Members will note that approximately 1.5 km of the proposed by pass is located within Co Kilkenny and that Wexford Co Council is the lead authority for the project. Design alternatives for future route and traffic improvements between Waterford Environs and just south of New Ross are also under examination.

N77 Kilkenny Ring Road Extension

Construction on the 4km Kilkenny Ring Road extension commenced in June 2005 and is to be completed and open to traffic in late 2007.

N76 Tennypark to Brownstown

Kilkenny County Council at its April monthly meeting approved Part 8 planning in relation to the scheme. At just over 3.5 km in length the full project is estimated at €12.5million. CPO documentation will now be prepared with a view to availing of funding from the NRA should this become available in 2008 or 2009.

 

N77 Ballynaslee

Kilkenny County Council at its April monthly meeting approved Part 8 planning in relation to the scheme. At just over 2 km in length, the full project is estimated at €7 million. CPO documentation will now be prepared with a view to availing of funding from the NRA should this become available in 2008 or 2009

 

R705 Graiguenamanagh Relief Road

Work on the Relief Road Scheme is proceeding very satisfactorily and the expected deadline of March 2008 will be achieved.

 

Kilkenny Inner Relief Road

It is anticipated that an Environmental Impact Statement and Statutory Documentation will be completed in late 2007. This scheme originates on the Castlecomer Road and terminates in the Western Environs and onto the Freshford Road. It also includes a new river crossing at Vicar Street.

 

Kilkenny Western Environs

The CPO documentation in relation to the necessary acquisition of lands was published in December 2006. The CPO was confirmed in the course of the year and tender documents for the construction phase are now being prepared.

 

Thomastown Relief Road

Consultants engaged by Kilkenny County Council are currently examining a number of route options to bring traffic from the New Ross Road to the Bennettsbridge Road via the Eastern Environs of the town. Public consultation has taken place and Part 8 report is currently under consideration.

Old Golf Links Road/Lovers Lane

A Part 8 public consultation process was carried out in 2001. Owing to passage of time a new public consultation phase is now required. Detailed scheme design and tender documentation is currently underway. It is planned to commence construction in the latter end of 2008.

 

Ballybought Street, Kilkenny

Contractors have been appointed to carry out improvement works on Ballybought Street. This scheme is funded jointly by Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Borough Council. Work will be completed shortly.

Newpark Drive , Kilkenny

Kilkenny County Council as its April Meeting approved the Part 8 planning of the scheme. Negotiations are ongoing with property owners regarding compensation and accommodation issues. It is planned to commence the work in 2008.

 

Kells Road Improvement

This scheme involves the improvement of a section of road between the Kells Road Roundabout and Mayfield Housing Development. Design options are currently being assessed and preliminary scheme details will be available for public consultation shortly.

 

N10 Kilkenny Ring Road 2 plus 2

The Kilkenny Ring Road between the Callan Road Roundabout and the Carlow Road Roundabout will shortly reach design capacity. Scheme planning is underway which will investigate the provision of a dual carriage way (2 plus 2) over the full extent of the existing road. It is proposed to proceed to public consultation very shortly.

 

Callan Traffic Management

Following award of contract in November, works will commence early in 2008.

 

Stoneyford Traffic Calming and Village Improvements

Council approved part 8 planning in September, 2007. Footpath improvements works have recently commenced.

 

Knocktopher Ballyhale Traffic Calming

Kilkenny County Council at its March Meeting approved the Part 8 planning in respect of this scheme. While provision has been made through local budgets for

limited improvements in the current year, the Council will seek additional funding from the National Roads Authority to progress the full scheme in 2008.

Public Lighting

Kilkenny County Council maintains approximately 6,800 lights. The Council assumed responsibility for over 100 new lights during 2007. This number is comprised of new lights installed under the agreed public lighting programme and lights taken in charge on recently completed housing estates.

Kilkenny County Council operates and maintains its public lighting stock through a formal maintenance contract with ESB public lighting division. Costs are budgeted to increase from €839,000 to €890,000 in 2008. The completion of the agreed public lighting programme is still ongoing with some areas more advanced then others.

Road Safety

Road Safety is an extremely important function of Kilkenny County Council. To this end the continued budgetary provision towards road safety awareness, the school warden system and the support of community focussed road safety campaigns will be a key consideration for the members.

In a new cross boundary initiative with Carlow County Council, provision of €30,000 has been included towards the employment of a full time road safety officer.

 

Pedestrian Safety

The matter of pedestrian safety at schools was examined in early 2007. A comprehensive policy and programme for the provision of safety measures such as crossings, traffic calming and markings was agreed by Council and will be implemented over a three year period based on an agreed priority list.

Revised Speed Limits

Provision has been included in the 2008 Budget to allow for the erection of new speed limit signs on foot of the current statutory review process.

Water Services - Service Division C

Strategic Policy Committee

The Infrastructure, Transportation and Water Strategic Policy Committee discuss water services related issues and the principal matters discussed were outlined earlier in the Service Division B review.

Operational Cost of Water & Waste Water Services

In accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act, Kilkenny County Council took over the water service functions of the Borough Council with effect from July 2007.

The 2008 Budget projects a €2,384,000 increase in the operational cost of water and waste water services to €10,604,000.

This very substantial increase in the operational costs associated with providing water services is mainly attributable to the following:

(1) €800,000 cost associated with the water services infrastructure previously provided, and financed, by Kilkenny Borough Council.

(2) €491,000 (50%) increase in sludge management cost to €1,471,200 which makes provision for sludge management costs of €1,071,000 and €400,000 for Council waste water and water plants respectively. The projected costs associated with this activity have been informed by recent tender rates received, and by comparison with neighbouring local authorities.

Under various legislation, sludges to be used for agriculture practices must be treated before being applied to land and can only be applied to

land when conditions are suitable and in accordance with issued guidelines. Also, sludges arising from water plants cannot be discharged to waters. They require specialised treatment prior to disposal to landfill. The budget cost also includes the winter storage of sludge, its transportation, treatment and disposal. The cost increases in successive budgets for this activity reflect the costs of evolving best practices and legislation in this area.

(3) €106,000 (65%) increase in costs associated with Water Quality Testing Programme for 2008. This increased resource is required to bring the monitoring programme into compliance with current and impending legislative and best practice requirements. The budget of €305,000 makes provision for Water Quality Monitoring Costs of €40,000 and €265,000 for wastewater & water respectively.

(4 ) €200,000 new cost associated with new legislative service of licensing waste water discharges. Under the Waste Water Discharge Authorisation Regs 2007 SI 684, water service authorities are required to obtain licenses for waste water discharges from the EPA. The first license required under these regulations will be for discharges related to greater than 10,000 population equivalent (PE). The Purcellsinch Waste Water Treatment Plant license will be submitted before the end of 2007 and will cost in the region of € 30,000. In 2008 the regulations will require the licensing of a further identified 8 treatment plants which serve agglomerations with population equivalents between 2001 and 10,000 and will each carry a licence fee of €25,000.

Asset Management

The Council is continuing to fund the recording in digital format of all water and waste water connections on the County Council network. The water services network is substantially completed with approx 98% of the network verified to date. Work has commenced on the waste water element with approx 10% of the network captured to date. Asset management is an essential requirement for efficient and effective management of the resources available to water services.

Water Pricing Policy - Water Services Income

In line with international best practice and EU policy, Ireland has been moving steadily towards making the full cost of water and waste water services transparent and securing full cost recovery from non-domestic customers.

Under the Governments Water Services Pricing Policy, local authorities are required to:

  • Ensure that non domestic users pay for operational costs subject to water pricing being made fully transparent;
  • Ensure that any cross subsidies between the domestic and non domestic sectors are eliminated.
  • Ensure that water metering is rolled out to all non domestic consumers by the end of 2006.

The Policy also envisages that:

Funding for the operational costs of domestic water and wastewater services would be met by the Exchequer in a transparent fashion;

Local authorities would fund the non-domestic element of capital funding from a loan fund, to be repaid through non domestic user capital contributions in a manner that reflects Polluter Pays Principle and that will be uniform;

Whereas previously the DoEHLG provided 100% funding for the capital element of domestic costs, under Water Pricing Policy, any new residential area shall, for the purposes of capital grant from Government, be treated as commercial non-domestic.

In line with the above policy Kilkenny County Council

(1) Will have meters fitted to all non domestic connections by the end of 2008

and

(1) Introduced in 2007 a waste water charge of €0.91 for which waste water is being charged out on the basis of "water in, water out"

When the waste water charge was introduced, it was noted that full economic charging for water and waste water services would be introduced on a phased basis over the three years 2007-2009 inclusive. This draft budget proposes charges of €0.91 and €1.62 per cubic metre for water and waste water services. These charges compare against the calculated economic cost of €0.96 and €1.91 per cubic meter for water and waste water respectively.

The increase in the waste water charge will generate an extra €622,000 in income and will result in a charge that is 85% of the estimated economic cost of providing this service. The existing fixed charges for water and waste water will be maintained.

CAPITAL WORKS

Strategic Approach to Water Services Capital Investment Programme

As noted in 2007 Manager's Report, the significant investment in the water services infrastructure under the national Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP) requires a strategic approach to meet the growing needs of the county. Accordingly, a detailed Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan was presented and adopted by the members in 2007 for the provision of water and waste water facilities. The plan sets out the priority order for schemes, funding options and time scales for delivery. This plan will in turn inform the new requirement under the Water Services Act for a 6 year strategic plan for Water Services. The county was allocated €127m euro for 2007 to 2009 under the Water Services Investment Programme.

The following outlines the current position on some of the main schemes and will be reviewed in the light of the strategic plan:

Major Capital Water Schemes

Kilkenny Regional Water Supply Scheme

Preliminary Report received Oct 2007.

Bennettsbridge Regional Water Supply Scheme

Preliminary Report received.

Gowran / Goresbridge / Paulstown Water Supply Scheme

Cost report with DoEHLG.

Ballyragget, Clogh-Castlecomer & Urlingford-Johnstown Water Supply Scheme Bundle

Preliminary Report received.

Callan, Graignamanagh, Thomastown Water Supply Scheme Bundle

Preliminary Report received.

 

Mooncoin Regional Water Supply (South Kilkenny Water Supply) Scheme

Preliminary Report received Nov 2007.

Major Capital Wastewater Schemes

Kilkenny Waste Water Treatment Plant

The EPA have received and approved the "Best Available Technology" solution for the Diageo industry. This proposal has in turn facilitated a final proposal for the Purcellsinch facility and a Preliminary Report and Environmental Impact Statement was received in Nov 2007.

 

Freshford, Johnstown & Goresbridge Sewerage Scheme Bundle

Preliminary Report received and construction likely to commence in 2008.

 

Bennettsbridge Sewerage Scheme - Service Land Initiative

Work to commence in Jan 2008

Kilmacow Sewerage Scheme

Work to commence in Jan 2008.

Gowran Waste Water Treatment Plant Serviced Land Initiative

Work to commence in Jan 2008.

 

Waterford Main Drainage

Work to commence in Jan 2008.

Thomastown and Castlecomer Sewerage Scheme - Service Land Initiative

Tender documents being prepared by consultant.

Group Water Schemes

The Council recoups in full the cost of the Rural Water Programme which includes grants and subsidies to the Group Schemes, take over of existing group schemes and water testing programme and the cost of the South Leinster DBO project. There has been significant investment in this area since the commencement of the programme in 1997 and significant progress has been achieved in relation to the quality of rural water. The Group Schemes in Kilkenny are now registering in excess of 90% compliance with the Drinking Water Standards. Consistent with trend last year the out-turn for 2007 and the 2008 Budget continues to reflect a lower level of investment in this area than was previously required.

Development Management - Service Division D

 

Strategic Policy Committee

The Forward Planning & Development Strategic Policy Committee met on four occasions in 2007 under the chairmanship of Cllr. Pat Millea. The principal matters discussed included Gateways initiative, urban landscaping, planning enforcement, Waterford PLUTS, draft Development Contribution Scheme and review of the County Development Plan.

 

Planning Functions

The planning service undertakes a broad range of functions all of which contribute to the proper planning and sustainable development of the county. Generally the service falls under three main headings

  • Forward Planning
  • Development Control, and
  • Planning Enforcement

Forward Planning

The review of the County and City Development Plan commenced in 2007. The Plan will come up for formal adoption early in 2008. In addition to this, the Forward Planning Section has advanced Local Area Plans for the towns and villages of the County. The following table provides details of the status of each of the Local Area Plans that have been adopted to date or that will be progressed for adoption during 2008.

No.Local Area PlanStart DateFinish Date
1GowranOctober 2003October 2009
2PiltownOctober 2003October 2009
3FiddownOctober 2003October 2009
4MooncoinOctober 2003October 2009
5InistiogeJuly 2004July 2010
6KnocktopherJuly 2004July 2010
7BallyhaleJuly 2004July 2010
8BallyraggetJuly 2004July 2010
9UrlingfordJuly 2004July 2010
10GoresbridgeOctober 2005October 2011
11FreshfordOctober 2005October 2011
12KellsOctober 2005October 2011
13Environs of New RossOctober 2005October 2011
14SlieverueOctober 2006October 2012
15StoneyfordOctober 2006October 2012
16MullinavatOctober 2006October 2012
17Western Environs - Joint Plan with Kilkenny Borough CouncilMay 2004May 2010
18Loughmacask - Joint Plan with Kilkenny Borough CouncilDraft-for adoption April 20082018
19Kilkenny City CentreOctober 2005October 2011
20Waterford Environs (including Belview Port)2008
21Bennettsbridge2008
22Paulstown2008
23Johnstown2008
24Kilmacow2008
25Woodstock2008
26Callan2008
27Castlecomer2008
28Graiguenamanagh2008
29Thomastown2008

Development Control

The increased level of activity in the planning area is reflected in the increase in planning fees over the last number of years as follows:

Planning Enforcement

The Planning Enforcement Section has been assigned additional resources and this will see a more proactive role being taken by the County Council in this area than has been the case heretofore. The following are the statistics to 31/10/2007:

  • Complaints for Non-Compliance - 158
  • Warning Letters & Enforcement Notices - 144
  • Successful Enforcement Court Cases - 6

Enhancement of Planning Service

The Planning Departments of both the County and Borough Councils were reorganised during the year in order to provide a comprehensive City and Environs service. This cohesive service had already operated as part of the forward planning section and was successfully introduced to the development control section in the second half of the year.

Environmental Services - Service Division E

Strategic Policy Committee

The Environmental Policy, Fire Services and Emergency Planning Strategic Policy Committee met on four occasions in 2007 under the chairmanship of Cllr. Johnny Brennan. Meetings took place in Clogh, the new EPA headquarters in Seville Lodge and at County Hall. The principal matters discussed included the South East River Basin Management Plan, the proposed introduction of a county-wide, three-bin, waste collection service by the end of 2008 and the new national and local environmental complaints procedures. The SPC hosted a joint Kilkenny County and Borough Councils meeting on the issue of Climate Change in December, 2007.

Landfill and Waste Management

Dunmore landfill operates under a waste licence from the EPA (W0030-02). The final two waste cells (13 and 14) were opened for waste acceptance at Dunmore in 2007. The cells are expected to provide landfill capacity for the City and County until 2009. Phase 2 of the landfill restoration (Cells 8 to 12) was substantially completed during the year. The budgeted reduction in gate fee from €165 to €130 plus the landfill levy of €15 resulted in a small increase in the tonnage disposed of to 23,000 tonnes. Without this gate fee decrease, it is likely that the tonnage would have reduced significantly. It is proposed to maintain the gate fee at this level for 2008.

When the landfill is full in 2009, a regional solution to the disposal of the Kilkenny's waste will be implemented, initially involving landfill. This is not expected to impact significantly on waste disposal costs for householders and businesses, as much of the refuse collected privately in the County is already transferring to landfills outside the region.

Approximately €1.3m per annum is currently available from landfill gate fee income towards the financing of general environment costs such as street cleaning, education and awareness, etc. The absence of this income stream from 2010 onwards will place a considerable financial burden on the Council's resources which will require considerable planning over the next two years.

Recycling

The Recycling Centre at Dunmore continued to operate to a high standard and has been extremely popular with the public. Waste accepted at the facility now includes glass, cans, plastics, paper, cardboard, wood, metals, batteries, household hazardous waste, CDs and books, textiles, oils and WEEE. A charge of €3.50 per car load applies for general recyclables with some items such as oils and batteries charged per item. Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment is accepted free of charge, as required in law.

Significant progress was made on the procurement of a similar facility to service the South of the County. The site identified is located at Grannagh and it is expected to proceed to Part 8 planning authorisation early in 2008.

Recycling banks are operated by the Council throughout the City and County. The Council's "Adopt a Bottle Bank" grant scheme proved very popular with local groups. The high point of this scheme was when Piltown achieved recognition in the Tidy Towns competition as the best bring bank in the south east region.

Enforcement Activities

The Council's enforcement was very active throughout the year and had a number of notable successes. On average the team investigate over 1,000 complaints every year. A covert CCTV camera system was in operation at various locations throughout the County and a number of prosecutions are pending as a result. Planned inspections for 2008 will concentrate on a number of waste permitted facilities.

Farm Plastics

In 2007 the Council participated in a one off collection as part of the national take back scheme for farm plastics. Five collection centres were set up around the County in Kilkenny, Callan, Castlecomer, Bennettsbridge and Piltown. Local farmers enthusiastically availed of the scheme and 1,280 tonnes of stock-piled farm plastics were sent for recycling.

WEEE

3 mobile WEEE collection days were organised during April and May 2007 for Callan, Graiguenamanagh and Thomastown as part of National Spring Clean. Over 110 tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) were collected for recycling. Further days will be provided in 2008.

Green Schools

The success of the Green Schools program was evident in 2007 with a total of 20 Green Flag schools now in the County. A further 4 flags are expected in 2008.

Litter Management

The revised Litter Management Plan 2008 - 2011 is scheduled for adoption in December 2007. This Plan will provide the framework for tackling the litter problem over the next four years. In 2008, the Council is committed to the continuation of the environmental caretaker service for the four scheduled towns of Callan, Castlecomer, Graiguenamanagh and Thomastown.

Water Quality

The proposed draft South East River Basin Management Plan will be published at the end of 2008. This Plan is likely to have wide ranging implications for many Council activities and responsibilities. The Program of Measures to be implemented must ensure all waters achieve good status by 2015.

The Council's water quality team will continue to target river catchments with poor water quality. In 2007 catchment surveys were completed for the Gowran and Glory catchments to be followed in 2008 by a survey of the River Bregagh catchment and other catchments where poor water quality conditions prevail.

Under new regulations a discharge licence application has been made to the EPA for the Purcellsinch Waste Water Treatment Plant Discharge. Further applications will be required in 2008 for eight Council Waste Water Treatment plants with population equivalents of between 2,001 and 10,000. The challenge of this additional responsibility will involve a considerable extra workload for the section and close cooperation with the Water Services Section. The Council's water quality team will

continue to monitor 52 discharge licences to sewers and 21 discharge licences to water.

Frame Work for Major Emergency Management

A framework for major emergency management, together with a Major Emergency Development Plan 2006-2008, has been issued by Central Government, the purpose of which is to build capacity amongst the three principal responsible agencies, namely, the Local Authority, the Garda Siochana, & Health Services Executive, to deliver the framework objective of effective and coordinated response to major emergencies.

The framework has to be implemented at national, regional and local level and involves recruitment of additional staff, the provision of additional training and the preparation of a new major emergency plan.

In 2008 the work programme includes, launch and initial awareness, putting staff and resources in place, induction/training staff, writing up individual agency development programmes, undertaking risk assessments, drafting revised form of major emergency plan and putting support infrastructure in place.

Capital Programme - Fire Services

The new fire station in Freshford was completed and opened for service in June 2007 with a new fire engine for Castlecomer also being purchased.

Kilkenny County Council has received the approval of the DoEHLG to prepare tender documents for the new Castlecomer fire station for which it is planned to go to tender next year and begin construction in mid 2008

Recreation and Amenity - Service Division F

Strategic Policy Committee

The Arts, Culture, Heritage, Tourism & Education Strategic Policy Committee met on four occasions in 2007 under the chairmanship of Cllr. Ann Phelan. The principal matters discussed included the Heritage Plan, Recreational Capital Grant Scheme, Draft Play Policy, Library Development Plan and update on ongoing projects.

Nore Riverside Park

Significant progress was realised on the River Nore Linear Park throughout 2007 with works completed at Riverside Drive and Bishopsmeadows. The Council will continue development of this flagship project along the River Nore during 2008 through the completion of works at Talbot's Inch and at the Canal (Dukes Meadows). Development proposals will also be brought forward for the upgrading of Lacken Walk.

Waterford City Environs Amenity Facility

Priority will be given in 2008 to the advancement of a flagship recreational facility to serve the South of the County. Preliminary discussions in this matter have proceeded throughout 2007 with a view to identifying suitable lands for the development of the facility.

Master plans will also be prepared for the development of two amenity areas in the City at the Waterbarrack and Pococke.

Playground Provision Program

Kilkenny Council is currently operating and maintaining up to one dozen playgrounds throughout the county. The draft County Development Plan recognizes the need for continued development of playgrounds to meet the needs of local communities.

Pitch Provision Program

A MUGA (multi-use games area) was provided at Garringreen in 2007. An additional MUGA will be provided in 2008 in the Newpark Marsh area.

Woodstock Gardens

In 2007, Phase 3 of the Restoration Programme continued with major works to the repair and reconstruction of the walled garden and construction of the Turner Conservatory. Up to 35,000 visitors enjoyed the Woodstock experience in 2007.

The current scheme of Bord Failte support funding concludes at the end of 2007. Alternative funding sources will be investigated with Bord Failte set to announce new funding programmes early in 2008. The Woodstock Local Area Plan will be completed in 2008.

Trails/Walking Routes Kilkenny

Development of the walking route between Kilkenny and Inistioge will continue, in association with BNS / Leader. Other loop walks are being developed in Callan and Urlingford. Kilkenny County Council is also liaising with the Irish Heart Foundation to establish up to 4 Sli na Slainte looped walks in Kilkenny City and Environs in 2008. Details are likely to be available in the second quarter of 2008.

County Development Board

Kilkenny County Council is an active partner in the CDB process. In this context it contributes to all of the priority actions. Outside of the main priority area, the Board was active in the development of the Interagency Traveller initiative. The plan was submitted and received a positive response. The Board provides support for Comhairle na nOg, Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership. Initial work has commenced on the development of an Integration strategy. The agreed three year programme is now coming to an end. The Board will be concentrating on reviewing the eight agreed actions in the early part of next year and will be working on building an effective relationship with the new Integrated Local Development structure.

An area of significant progress on the County Development Board three year programme of priority areas included the establishment of the new Energy Forum. Following on the success of the Castlecomer experience, a similar Economic Development initiative is being implemented in Callan. Consideration is being given

to extending this to other towns. The integration of local development activity, despite the enormity of the task, is progressing satisfactorily. A more focused delivery of youth services through the establishment of the Youth Coordination Committee is being pursued.

Rapid

The new RAPID Strategic plan is presently being developed to cover 2007-2013. In 2007 funding was secured for a number of new projects, examples of which include the CCTV programme in Garringreen, the securing of funding for the O'Loughlin Court and Hebron Park community facilities ,estate enhancement and traffic calming for all of the RAPID areas in Kilkenny City , Newpark Close playground / recreational amenity and the provision of two multi purpose play areas for both Garringreen and Newpark Close. (The Garringreen MUGA has been installed). Leverage funding has been directed from the HSE leverage fund towards the development of the new Youth Facility in the McDonagh Station. Over €500,000 has been secured under the 2007 Sports Capital grants for a number of clubs in the city. New applications submitted for 2007 under the Dormant accounts include an application for a Community Bus under the schools completion programme and funding for the further development of the Bishop Birch Place Community facility. Additional funding secured includes funding under the sustainable communities programme and the Department of Education. www.rapidkilkenny.ie

Heritage

The implementation of projects in the Draft Kilkenny Heritage 2007-2011 was the main focus of work for 2006. Projects successfully completed include the following; Village Design Statements for Tullaroan and Newmarket/Hugginstown; Geological audit of County Kilkenny; Study on heritage awareness and attitudes in Kilkenny City & County; Heritage Appraisal of the Draft City & County Development Plans, and appointment of a part-time Field Monument Advisor, in partnership with the Heritage Council.

Other projects completed during 2007 included: restoration of Rothe House medieval garden; conservation works at Black Friars Gate and a programme of archaeological excavations and recording at Talbots Tower, with funding from the Irish Walled

towns network; an oral history recording project, in partnership with the library; seminar on the care and conservation of historic graveyards; co-ordination of the Historic Graveyard Grants scheme, in partnership with the Environment Section; promotion and co-ordination of Heritage Week and the preparation of heritage submission to BNS LEADER on new LEADER plan.

Play Strategy

During the year a Play Strategy has been developed and has recently been launched. The approach adopted has been totally child centred. Not alone have children been consulted but they have been involved at all stages.

Recreational Capital Fund (RCF)

2007 is the second year of operation of this fund. A total of 19 expressions of interest were received across the five Electoral areas. All of applicants received the support of the C&E section in completing their applications and 14 of these were forwarded to the Evaluation Committee.

Youth Facilities and Supports

It is generally recognised that Kilkenny needs a dedicated centre for young people. In this context, a space has been identified in the new McDonagh Junction. This is being made available on reasonable terms as part of the package on community gain. In recent times a full time person has been engaged with the specific task of developing this new facility.

Members are also aware that the groundwork is being done to create a Youth Council for the City and County.

Arts

Kilkenny County Council through its Arts Office supports an extensive Arts Programme. Last year was the biggest programme ever with a number of major productions. The Arts Council are commending the Kilkenny programme for both its quality and diversity. Two initiatives that received special mention are "5 to 6" a women's art project and Artslink which is a collaboration between local authorities in the South East.

Agriculture, Health, Education & Welfare - Service Division G

 

Agriculture

Provision has been made for the statutory drainage demand.

 

Education

The Council administers the pension scheme for the VEC. The expenditure involved is 100% recoupable.

 

The Council acting in agency capacity on behalf of the Department of Education, administers the Higher Education Grants Scheme. It had been proposed that the VEC would take over responsibility for the administration of the Higher Education Grant Scheme in 2007; this did not happen and there is yet no indication as to when the VEC will be ready to assume this role. Expenditure on grants is recouped with the exception of €15,200. Administration and other support costs associated with the scheme are not recoupable.

Miscellaneous Services - Services Division H

 

 

 

Operation of Morgue and Coroner Expenses

This expenditure relates to the costs associated with Coroners & Inquests and is not recoupable.

 

Franchise Costs

This expenditure relates to the costs associated with the Register of Electors and provision being made towards the costs of the next local elections.

 

Local Representation/Civic Leadership

The role of the elected members is critical and is pivotal to the development and success of the county. The responsibilities and role of the elected members have expanded in recent years as the work and responsibility of the Council has expanded and as part of national developments to strengthen local democracy. It is important therefore that the supports available to elected representatives reflect these responsibilities and changes and this service provides for this.

 

Motor Taxation

The Motor Tax On-Line Service was introduced in 2004, through which customers can renew their motor tax via the internet. The service has proven very successful with almost 26% of all renewals now being on line.

Administration of Rates

The principal expenditure in this service relates to the provision for irrecoverable rates of €665,000, which constitutes less than 6% of the expected rates income.

Finance

 

Service Costing

Better Local Government highlighted the need for a Local Government service costing model. The Indecon report on the financing of local government further strongly advocated the introduction of a service costing model with a view to achieving effective Value for Money within the local government sector and demonstrating efficiency in the use of resources.

Kilkenny County Council, on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has over the last two years developed a service costing model which will be implemented in all local authorities during 2008.

This costing model will assist in transparently demonstrating service costs, particularly in areas where there is a requirement to charge for services. The focus of the costing system is on defining broad services which capture the breadth and scope of local authority functions.

The draft 2008 Budget has been prepared using the new service costing model, with appropriate reclassification of the 2007 Budget to ensure a proper "like for like" comparison base.

This new service costing system will have the following benefits:

Allow for service cost comparison over time, both within the Council, and against other similar authorities

Assist in informed decision making about resource usage

Identify transparent costs of services and therefore establish a clear basis for appropriate charging

Allow the identification of non value added activities

Help achieve best value through improved information, benchmarking and continuous improvement

A special word of thanks is due to Mr. Tim Butler, who was the person assigned to this project and who has been instrumental in the projects successful conclusion.

Audit Committee

As advised in Circular FIN11/2007, having first consulted with the Cathaoirleach, I intend making proposals to the full Council in January concerning the setting up of an Audit Committee.

Local Government modernisation over the past decade has produced significant improvements in the governance of Local Authorities through, for example, the formation of the Policy Groups and Strategic Policy Committees, strengthening of the finance function, modernisation of the accounting system to a full accrual basis and the introduction of a Service Costing System.

The scale, complexity and diversity of Local Government business, allied to the need for transparency and accountability in regard to the performance of each Authority, serve to highlight the importance of regularly reviewing the effectiveness of internal financial and operational controls. The Audit Committee will remain in place for the duration of the current elected Council and will have an independent role in advising the Council on financial reporting processes, internal controls, risk management and audit matters, as part of the systematic review of the control environment and governance procedures of the Council.

Finance Position

The Council's overall financial position strengthened further during 2007. This follows on from the strict adherence to Budgets of the last number of years with a continuing emphasis on cost control and income improvement. Between 2000 and 2006, the Income and Expenditure deficit of €6.2m was eliminated.

County Charge

Kilkenny County Council charge Kilkenny Borough Council for the cost of services paid for by the County Council but which relate to the Borough Council area. Examples of such services would include the fire service, libraries, water services, environmental management, etc. These services are costed, and charged for, under the County Charge mechanism. The budgeted 2008 County Charge is €2.5m which is an increase of €0.7m on 2007. Kilkenny County Council are now charging the Borough Council the full cost of services provided, previous transitionary arrangement now being at an end. The main driver behind this income increase is that Kilkenny County Council has now taken over full responsibility for water services previously provided, and financed, by Kilkenny Borough Council.

Rate Charge

Kilkenny County Council's rate charge is the lowest in the country and is significantly lower than that charged by most other Local Authorities, i.e. 21% lower than the national average. As such, the Council's scope with regard to additional discretionary spending is limited and leaves the Council much more dependant on other income sources than comparable authorities.

Information and Communications Technology

Kilkenny County Council is committed to the use of information systems to expand and increase the efficiency and quality of service delivery in the specific areas of:

  1. Public Services
  2. Services to elected members
  3. Services to local authority staff

With over 350 desktop users, in excess of 40 servers and 29 networked buildings, Kilkenny Local Authorities now has an extensive ICT infrastructure in place. In 2008, Kilkenny County Council, as well as maintaining and keeping the existing infrastructure up to date, will be expanding the use of ICT in the following areas:

Disaster Recovery

Given the Council's reliance on existing IT infrastructure it is important to improve disaster recovery and business continuity capability. As part of a phased approach to implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, new software will be implemented and hardware which will allow quick recovery from a hardware or software failure to key local authority servers.

Continued Development of Web Sites

Kilkenny Local Authorities migrated all of their websites to a new content management system during 2006. Considerable extensions and enhancements to the sites were made during 2007. In addition to ensuring the sites and their content are up to date (with daily updates), site usage is continually monitored so that customers needs are fine tuned. Further enhancements planned during 2008 include the addition of new information in formats such asRSS

RSS, SMS, audio and video. The possibilities of implementing various 'Web 2.0' technologies to further engage and collaborate with the citizens of Kilkenny in the provision of our services and information

Planning File Images on Web

Considerable work has taken place throughout 2007 scanning planning files. It is planned to make these scanned images of planning files available via the web site in 2008 on a phased basis. This will allow the public view the full details of a planning file via the web.

Intranet - Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2007

The current version of the Kilkenny Intranet (SharePoint Portal Server 2003) will be upgraded to the latest version SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) 2007 next year. This will help to improve Kilkenny Local Authorities effectiveness by providing a comprehensive content management and enterprise search capability. SPS 2007 will facilitate the sharing of information across departments through a single user friendly interface.

Time Management System

As part of commitments under Towards 2016, Kilkenny County Council will be selecting, procuring and implementing a Time Management System for all staff in the local authority in 2008. The system will collate the hours worked for all staff and facilitate compliance with the Working Time Act.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Improvements

GIS Image

Significant improvements have been made to date on the amount of GIS information available to customers via the web through the councils Interactive Mapping application. 2008 it is intended to extend the number of GIS layers by 30 to over 90

thereby making as much information as possible available and further improving service to the public.

Handheld System for the Electoral Register System

Kilkenny County Council is committed to improving its processes for updating the electoral register. In 2008 the extensive Geographical Information Systems will be amended by implementing a handheld device for the Register of Electors field workers. These handheld devices will contain the map data for the electoral area together with the electoral register details. This will allow the field workers update the information immediately on the handheld for later uploading and verification to the main database. This will have significant savings on time and effort in data entry and will help to ensure that the electoral register is as up to date as possible.

Kilkenny City Wireless Mesh

Kilkenny County Council has agreed to take part in a Wireless Mesh project in conjunction with a European funded project being organised by the South East Regional Authority for Kilkenny city. The project will utilise the existing Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) and expand the MAN's reach using radio mesh technology.

Wireless Mesh

 

 


Related Links: