Glimmer of hope in council finances

Longford County Council offices. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

Longford County Council offices. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

Longford Co Council unveiled its financial statement during this month’s meeting which took place on Wednesday evening at the authority’s headquarters in the county town.

Expenditure for 2013 amounted to €39.6m while income on the the account amounted to €39.71m.

“A modest surplus of €105,000 was recorded which has reduced the accumulated revenue deficit to €196,000. “Transfers from the income and expenditure account amounted to €1.59m compared with €1.8m the previous year,” said Financial Director Barry Lynch.

“The operating result includes the provision of €361,000 for the costs of a voluntary redundancy scheme which was availed of by seven staff.

“Savings will start to accrue from this scheme during 2014 and payroll savings under the Haddington Road Agreement helped finance the cost.

“With the exception of commercial water charges, arrears have increased over the council’s main income sources, and as a result provision for doubtful debts has been increased by €473,000.”

The Leader has also learned that it has cost the local authority over €6m to upgrade and hand over local water services to Irish Water.

“In relation to the outstanding arrears in respect of water charges, who takes over that now that Irish Water has taken over?, questioned Cllr Denis Glennon (FF).

Mr Lynch told the meeting that there were currently €1m in water arrears and Irish Water would take charge of those arrears.

“We believe that €600,000 of that €1m will be recouped - so the remaining €400,000 will be taken over by Irish Water.”

The meeting also heard the local authority would apply for funding from the allocation that was announced by the Department of Environment last week for vacant housing. “We had to identify vacant properties in various locations before we applied for the funding,” Mr Lynch added. “We have already got approval for funding for Trumra Road in Granard, so that is positive.”

Cllr Martin Mulleady (FF) then asked if the local authority had any funds or provisions made for the refurbishment of its housing in certain areas of the county.

“While there are council properties in the county that need serious work done on them, what is the plan to carry out that work?,” he asked. “You really see the extent of the problem when you are out canvassing and there is no doubt about it, but some council properties are in a very unacceptable state.”

In conclusion Mr Lynch said that the environment in which Longford Co Council operated in, “would continue to be extremely challenging in 2014”.

“Since January 1, 2014, Irish Water has taken over statutory responsibility for Water Services and the council now operates under a service level agreement,” he continued.

“More significant change will occur on foot of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 whereby Longford Co Council will take over the operations of Longford Town Council. Capital expenditure last year amounted to €20.9m and capital income amounted to €21.74m resulting in a net increase in capital balances of €0.81m for the year.

“The year end capital balance was €11.1m and this increase is due to the drawdown of loan funding in relation to water services.

“The capital account also reflects an increase in provision of €287,000 against development contribution debtors.”




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