Rate collection to blame for cash
shortfall, say council

Longford Town Council’s financial woes are being made worse by ongoing difficulties revenue officials are having in collecting commercial rates.

Longford Town Council’s financial woes are being made worse by ongoing difficulties revenue officials are having in collecting commercial rates.

Administrative officer Mark McNerney said a three per cent gap or €206,000 hole in the local authority’s balance sheets for the first six months of this year was largely down to recouping monies from cash strapped businesses.

He did nonetheless raise hope some, or a sizeable percentage of that shortfall, might be tempered over the next six months by the setting up of carefully devised financial plans with firms.

“The reality is the gap is down to the problem we are having collecting rates and we are working on that.

“Businesses are engaging with us in setting up payment plans so hopefully that figure of €200,000 or so will be bridged somewhat,” he said.

Mr McNerney’s admission was made in response to queries made by Cllr Tony Flaherty as to the council’s worsening financial situation.

Outlining just how sudden the turnaround has been, Mr McNerney said just 12 months ago, the council had cash reserves of well over €80,000 to call upon.

“The knock on effect for Longford Town Council is we will have to make an adjustment of €95,000,” he said, when referring to expected reductions in central government funding. “The adopted budget (for 2012) is €7,042,880 and we have €3,739,814 spent. That’s 3 per cent above what it should be.

“The net effect of that is there is €206,688 of a deficit which is a very difficult decision to be in. When I compare that to the same period last year when I presented you with figures for the same period, we had a credit balance of €85,000. There is a variance there between the two periods of almost €292,000.”

That figure, however, is expected to exceed €300,000 when cuts to the council’s Local Government Fund for next year are taken into account.