Council to meet this morning to discuss budget

Donegal County Council meets in special session this morning to discuss what members say will be one of the most difficult budgets the council has ever faced.

The county manager and senior officials are facing the challenge of maintaining services and providing for the development of the county while at the same time minimising the cost to local businesses.

The budget document being presented to council today does not seek an increase in commercial rates, but many members believe a freeze is not enough in the current economic climate, and another reduction is
necessary.

However, if Finance Director Gary Martin and County Manager Seamus Neely are to reduce rates, they'll have to find further savings in a budget which has already been cut to the bone.

Spending will be down €5 million, from €153 million this year to €148 in 2012. Manager Seamus Neely is acknowledging €6 million in savings during 2011, with a further 200,000 expected through energy efficiencies.

Commercial water and waste water charges will increase by 15 and 5 cent respectively, but standing charges will be reduced by €25.

What could be a long and protracted process of debate and discussion begins this morning, with every possibility that it will be January before a budget is passed.