Mayor hopes for concensus on County Council budget

Councillors have begun their budget meeting at County House in Lifford.

If the provisions of the proposed budget are accepted today, Donegal County Council will spend just over €153 million in 2011. Of that, a total of 66 million will go on payroll costs.

The money will be made up of 48.5 million in State grants, 39 million in receipts from charges and fees, 36 million from the Local Government Fund, 21 million from rates, and 8 million from water charges. That's a 55/45% split between national and local funding.

Because the reduction in the Local Government Fund was 6% rather than the 15% that had been forecast, Manager Seamus Neely has been able to write in a 3.5% reduction in commercial rates and a freeze on other charges, including water and landfill. However, with the discussions happening after what's been a disasterous weekend, particularly for the retail sector, councillor s may seek more reductions to ease pressure on business in the county.

The meeting adjourned for a time this morning to allow the parties meet for preliminary disucssions, and now, Mr Neely and the Head of Finance Garry Martin are making their presentations.

A further adjournment is then possible before a vote is called. Mayor Cllr Cora Harvey is overseeing the budget, the first time a Sinn Fein representitive has done so. After last year's controversey when Fianna Fail members passed the budget while others were out of the chamber, she says she's anxious to ensure that concensus is facilitated today..........