Council saves over £500,000 in six months

Derry Council's headquarters on Strand Road.
Derry Council's headquarters on Strand Road.

Derry & Strabane Council has revealed it has saved over half a million pound from its budget for the first six months of the year.

The council started this financial year back in April with a budget of £52.7m to cover costs to the end of March 2016.

The local authority had projected income and costs for the half-year stage to the start of October, but has now tallied up the sums with some positive results.

The Council’s Lead Financial Officer Alfie Dallas presented the good news contained in the ‘Six Month Financial Outturn’ report at this week’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee meeting.

The report states: “Members will note that a surplus of £558,000 has been generated. This is obviously a positive outcome.”

He added that a number of key factors had helped achieve the saving.

While the council overspent significantly on some of its cost projections, there has been a £300,000 surplus achieved through waste management savings as a result of lower quantities coming in than were expected.

Further help came in the form of additional rates support grant from DoE Minister Mark H Durkan, although it was pointed out at the meeting that this covered only 75% of the cuts imposed to this year’s grant aid in the first place.

“It is important to maintain pressure with a view to securing the remaining 25% of Council’s original entitlement,” the council was told.

Income from building control was also “significantly higher” than expected.

Contrary to this, the council noted a “significant shortfall in income” from public car parking charges and fines in Derry and Strabane, as with all other councils since the car parks were transferred from the Department for Regional Development to local authorities.

Mr Dallas also sounded a note of caution and predicted that there would be an overspend in terms of car parking costs of at least £230,000 by April 2016.

The report concludes: “Given the uncertain nature of certain budgets and the remaining challenges around transferring functions, it would be considered prudent to defer making significant reallocations until later in the financial year when the out-turn is more certain.”

“Financially this is a positive report and does reflect good financial management,” Mr Dallas added.