Sligo co co finances improving but still a challenge says CEO

The financial situation at Sligo County Council is improving but still challenging according to the CEO.

Ciaran Hayes has presented the draft 2017 budget to a meeting of the council today.

Councillors also have to decide on the rates to be paid by ratepayers for the coming year.



The CEO says the 1.6 million surplus this year and a similar expected surplus for next year is in complete contrast to a deficit of €2.5 million annually since 2009, culminating in a revenue deficit of more than €6 million in 2013.

But although a revenue deficit surplus of €1.6 million is being planned by the ouncil for next year, the surplus sought in the financial plan agreed with the department is €3.6 million.

But the council’s top officials say it is not considered that this is achievable.

Mr Hayes told councillors this morning that if they were to achieve the €3.6 million demanded in the financial plan, they would have no funds available for discretionary spending, such as on roads,

Mr Hayes says the budget proposed is a balance to ensure continuation on progress made on the council’s finances and to ensure progress on various capital projects.

Some of the main changes to the 2017 budget include an increase in insurance costs of €192,000; withdrawal of a department subvention for recycling facilities, resulting in an annual loss in income of €52,000; payment of €44,000 to the EPA for lake monitoring; and a reduction in rates because of a revaluation of major global utilities.

Payroll savings of about €400,000 are expected next year.

However, Independent Councillor Declan Bree says that despite the surplus this year and the surplus being planned for next year, he pointed out the overall revenue debt is €25 million.

Councillors also have to decide on the rates to be paid by ratepayers for the coming year.

A challenge in this area is the demand on local authorities that they have one rate within their area.

At present in Sligo, the rate in the county area is €64.43 in the euro while in the old borough area it’s €68.76.

It’s these rates that determine how much ratepayers pay on property they own, and is based on the valuations of those properties.

But councillors are now required have a harmonisation of the rate throughout the county by 2021.

In Sligo, this should mean one rate of €66.95, which means ratepayers in the borough should be paying less but those in the county will be paying more.

Councillors are now going through the fine details of the budget but already there’s a proposal for the government to substantially increase the annual subvention to the council.

However, Mr Hayes insists Sligo has come through some difficult years.

He says the challenges are not diminished but the progress of recent years should now start to bear fruit.