Sligo’s CEO does not rule out further service cuts due to financial plan

The chief executive of Sligo County Council is warning that services may be hit further if the local authority is to meet the targets set down in its financial plan for the coming years.

That’s because the achievement of the plan’s targets is dependent on staff being reduced even further.

And Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes says that could mean a repeat of a scenario that occurred earlier this year when libraries had to be temporarily closed.

Sligo County Council’s finances are improving but the local authority is far from being out of the woods yet.

The five-year financial plan is based on €12.2million in savings and that means further reductions in staff.

They have already been slashed by about a third.

The budget for next year is based on getting €1.6million in savings.

Council Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes told yesterday’s council meeting that unless the council continued to reduce staff, it would not be able to meet the targets set.

He also said the surplus set by the department cannot be met in five years and the council would now be looking for an extension of that period.

During a discussion on the council finances yesterday, Independent Councillor Declan Bree pointed out that the local government auditor, in a report, had drawn attention to what he describes as ‘the very serious matter’ of the council’s overall revenue debt of almost €26million.

Cllr Bree said this was in addition to the council’s capital debt of €106million.

He added that the chief executive was telling councillors the financial plan was not fit for purpose yet was telling the auditor that implementing it will reduce the deficit by €12.3million in the five years to 2019.

But Mr Hayes insists it’s quite clear that strict adherence to the financial plan is, and will, cause problems for the delivery of services.