Derry & Strabane Council has been praised for good housekeeping after local authority bosses confirmed that it has managed to save £1,872,000 in the past year.
Alfie Dallas, Head of Strategic Finance & Funding said savings were achieved due to a number of factors including almost £700,000 efficiencies resulting from senior staff leaving the council as well as savings on Council buildings and “prudent financial management”.
The Council has also managed to save a further £122,000 on travel, attendance allowances, conferences and ombudsman costs during its first year in operation.
Environmental group costs budgets for but not needed also resulted in over half a million pounds being saved.
The Council did overspend its budget for off-street car parks to the tune of £38,000, but this was offset by salary savings of £100,000 in its Visitor Attractions and Economic Development wings, along with additional income of £15,000 from the Guildhall and maintenance savings of £38,000.
Trade waste, income from building control, grant aid and further salary savings also fed into the overall directorate savings pot.
Beyond this, there were other savings within the Council’s budget relating to loan charges, support grants and other sources but much of the savings will be used to meet spending and contigency funds commitments for the year ahead.
A chunk of the money saved by the Council will also go towards reserves used to top up a potential reduction in rates income following a 2015 revaluation exercise.
In his report to the Council, Mr Dallas stressed that the Council was facing financial pressures in the period ahead.
His report states: “Whilst this year’s outturn has been very favourable and has enabled a number of
pressures and commitments to be addressed, it is very important to note that this is a very short-term position.
“The main sources of savings relate to waste management (which will now reduce following recent retendering), efficiency savings which have now been captured as part of the 2016/17 rates estimates to create a growth fund and loan charge savings due to the budget not yet being fully committed and projects committed from budget which will not be complete until subsequent years and also the change in new Council MRP policy.
“2016/17 will still remain a challenging year and it is important that good financial control is
Sinn Fein Councillor Maoliosa McHugh congratulated officers for their work to achieve the savings.
“It’s a good news story in many ways,” he said. “All involved have to be congratulated for the good work carried out,” he said.
He added that rate payers in Strabane would welcome the approach taken to help equalise rates.