The city accountant Alfie Dallas has advised councillors that an almost half-a-million pounds surplus has been realised from Derry City and Strabane District Council’s books in the first three months of 2017/18.
The council’s lead finance officer told members of the authority’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee that the “positive position” - a surplus of £411,000 - was achieved via a variety of efficiency and savings measures.
Twenty-three thousand pounds, for example, was saved across council departments from councillors’ conference and travel expenses, staff vacancies, building operating costs and training and travel expenditure, Mr. Dallas advised members.
Temporary vacancies within the council’s Health and Community directorate, meanwhile, yielded a further £23,000 in savings, most of which will be set aside for additional community centres venues funding.
The Business and Culture directorate also achieved savings in building costs and temporary staff vacancies while its car parking income was ahead of budget by £4,000.
Mr. Dallas said the council’s Environment and Regeneration directorate’s increased planning (£44,000) and building (£71,000) income, and waste contract (£120,000) and temporary cleansing (£70,000) savings, had also boosted the city coffers.
This, the council’s chief accountant said, was particularly positive.
“It is important to note the continued increase in planning and building control income which is a signal of positive growth and development activity in the Council area,” he said.
Mr. Dallas also outlined how further savings are expected to arise later in 2017/18 from projected loan charges on finance for some capital projects not becoming redeemable until future financial years.
These savings will be reinvested in major council projects like its European Capital of Culture bid.
“These savings will be reinvested in progressing the capital plan and other corporate priorities (e.g. European Capital of Culture) and will be considered in due course by this committee following consideration by the Capital and Corporate Projects Planning Group,” reported Mr. Dallas.
The city’s chief financial officer outlined how the savings had been achieved from the first three months of an overall programmed expenditure for 2017/18 of £56,163,211.
Of this total budget £51,615,801 is raised from the district rates - domestic and non-domestic. A further £3,756,990 is coming from the centrally-funded Rates Support Grant; a further £340,421 is coming from the Transferring Functions Grant; while £450,000 is funded from the council’s reserves.
Mr. Dallas told the committee on Tuesday that “further consideration will be given to potential reinvestment” of the £411,000 surplus in other corporate priorities later in the year when the “outturn can be projected with more certainty”.