Friday, November 17, 2006

Another year older, another budget

We're getting plenty of never mind the quality feel the width from the government about the estimates. I'm put in mind of a builder telling someone that they still haven't finished building their extension but bragging about how much more they have spent than they had previous intended to.

I was wonder how the issue will percolate down to the local authority leve. It would seem on initial reports about the place that the local authority grant has not risen to match inflation not to mind the commitments made as part of benchmarking. It would seem in part that the government is aiming to force the local councils to increase charges and as such create resentment against the opposition parties that are now in control of most councils around the country.

Of course, all this robbing Peter to pay Paul sleight of hand is going to have an immediate direct impact on local authorities most directly in the form of waste charges as budgets for the coming year. The government negotiated with the unions a few years back and agreed a partnership deal with increased pay for local authority employees. Then they did the dirty on the local authorities by not increase the contribution from the central fund to cover this increase.

I believe that paying directly for something such as the bin collection service places the issue in sharp focus for most people. to hear some talk about it you'd swear it was tiny minority of households that produced all of our waste and in fact we were all producing too much. I got myself into some hot water a few years back when I queried the comments from a public rep who appeared to be opposing the change in the Dublin City charges system from one that charged everyone the same amount to one that charged based on how often you put your bin out. In fact what annoyed me most was that while I had pointed out the problems with the intial plan the same person had publicly supported that previous reform package which was even less responsive to the amount that people put out and as such would have rewarded recycling efforts much less than the system introduced. Well, sure, you makes your choices and let the voters decide, and we live and learn.

Of course, any charge system should have a consistent national waiver system to address the issue of affordablity that affects those on fixed incomes and treats everyone fairly. That does not mean that someone getting the service for nothing would be able to dispose of all the waste you would like for nothing. There are issues to be addressed particular to different groups such as the issue that many older people have with disposing of pants for incontinence, there again I'm not sure that should be going into the regular wheelies bins as it is. I would think that there should really be a separate free collection for people in such situations.

On a minor political issue, I wonder where will Cllr Cosgrave place her vote when it comes to the budget for Dublin City Council? It would be nice but naive I suppose to think she might pay a visit and consult her constituents and those who voted for her as to what she should do.


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