County Manager to present first budget to Donegal County Council today

County Manager Seamus Neely will today present his first budget to Donegal County Council, with a 3.5% reduction in commercial rates and a freeze on water charges being proposed.

He faces the challenge of absorbing a fall in local income, as well as a 6.6% decrease in government funding, while at the same time maintaining services across the county.

The 29 members of Donegal County Council have spent the weekend going over the budget book, which County Manager Seamus Neely acknowledges has been drawn up at a time of much uncertainty.

Total current expenditure of just over 153 million euro is forecast for 2011, 5 million less than this year. Payroll costs will be down over 8 million euro, discounting VEC pensions.

With the local government fund down by over 2.5 million euro, there will be pressure on the councils accounts, while increases in rates and charges are clearly not going to be accepted by councillors in the current economic climate.

Mr Neely is proposing a 3.5% reduction in the commercial rate, with water charges to remain the same as this year.

Last year's budget meeting ended in controversy when the then mayor called a vote when only his own Fianna Fail colleagues were present in the chamber. This year, a Sinn Fein mayor will preside for the first time.