Donegal County Council is facing cuts of up to €3.3m from its budget following a drop in revenue from rates and water charges.
The cuts have been proposed by the county manager, Seamus Neely across the council’s seven directorates, following a shortfall in revenue of €4.8m which was flagged up to councillors in April.
After the disclosure by the county manager there were heated exchanges amongst councillors.
Mr. Neely told councillors at Monday’s meeting of the council that the council will have between €4m and €6m less to spend. He said the fall in revenue was not sustainable and action has to be taken.
A fall in commercial water usage of €1.2m, a writing off of €1.7m in rates and a drop in funding from central government are among the factors that have contributed to the drop in revenue.
The county manager has proposed cuts of between €2.2m and €3.3m which he described as the “mid range option”.
He said the drop in rates reflected the most challenging conditions the county has seen in many years which have lead to liquidations, dissolutions and vacant properties. Mr. Neely put the drop in revenue that the council has experienced since 2006 at over €58m, with the fall in funding from central government accounting for almost €28m and the fall in rates totalling over €7m.
The cuts were pout to councillors at the council meeting after officials and councillors had discussed the issue at a behind closed doors workshop meeting which delayed the beginning of the council meeting for more than an hour.
Heated exchanges followed as councillors disagreed on to proceed with the proposed cuts.
. Sinn Féin’s Marie Therese Gallagher said the cuts already made had impacted on services and more cuts would have further impact. Cllr. John Campbell (Ind) said cuts would mean a significant deviation from the budget.
The call for further discussion was also supported by Fianna Fáil. But Fine Gael’s. Cllr. Bernard McGuinness said there was no need to make politics out of the issue. His stance was supported by Labour councillor Martin Farren who said the proposals were “very self-explanatory”.
Calling for more discussion Fianna Fáil councillor Dessie Larkin said it was the “oldest trick in the book” to frame more discussion as an attack on the manager. Further discussion on the cuts were postponed aft the county manager told councillors he would present more detail in September.