County Manager, Hubert Kearns
has rejected the claims by some councillors that 'mismanagement' and
'fantacy budgets' were the underlying reasons for the current financial
crisis facing Sligo
County Council (SCC
Mr Kearns was speaking to the media following the special meeting of the council. See SligoToday 9/8/12
While it has been confirmed that SCC
, in financial terms, is the worst performing council in the State with a current deficit of €73m Mr Kearns
claimed that there is a queue of councils behind Sligo
who are also in financial difficulties.
Among the factors cited by the manager as contributing to the financial
crisis was the huge cost of providing water treatment plants and waste
water facilities required to meet European standards. Until 2010, raw
sewage was being pumped into the bay and the waste water plant had been
provided “in the national interest” as the Government was being forced
to comply with EU directives but was costing €1.5 million a year to run.
A water charge per household is expected to be introduced.
said that the
council, like all other local authorities had lost their independence
some years back and in regards to the water treatment, the council had
to borrow €9m to qualify for the €41m Government grant.
The council acquired land in primary positions under the National
Spacial Strategy, at great expense and with Government encouragement,
was appointed a Gateway City.
"The council was encouraged to think big, to think big projects."
When the Gateway project was cancelled large debts were left as no grants or funding was forthcoming from the government.
The County Manager said that 'discrectionary cuts' were being considered
although the savings would be minimal. Discussions were ongoing with
energy providers to perhaps 'dim' street lighting across the county in
an effort to cut expenditure.
Currently there is no money available to keep verges clear and in other cuts, Life Guard services at all Sligo
beaches may have to be withdrawn completely next year.
agreed with the
Local Authority Clearance Certificate recommendation by Grant Thornton
whereby no grants would be paid to anybody not holding the certificate.
The certificate would confirm that no outstanding debts were due to the
council. These debts would include, the controversial Household and
Septic Tank charges, motor tax, development charges or any debt due to
the council. The county manager added that all government grants
including agricultural grants would be included.
When asked by SligoToday.ie
to comment on reports that his own pay, at €136,000, was €30,000 more than that of the Spanish prime minister, Mr Kearns
said his salary rate was set by the Government. “I am surprised that
the Spanish prime minister earns so little,” he said, adding his pay had
been cut in 2008.