Councils defend financial record

Kilkenny’s local authorities have hit back against charges that the councils are not managing their finances properly.

Kilkenny’s local authorities have hit back against charges that the councils are not managing their finances properly.

A report in Monday’s Irish Independent included Kilkenny in a list of counties that were owed money in development charges, rates and commercial water charges, although it was ranked 16th out of 22 counties in terms of sums owed.

A Kilkenny County Council official has responded by saying that the statements in the article were not true, and that the council’s finances have actually improved over the past decade, including a surplus at the end of 2011.

“In this article a reference was made to ‘the financial position of Kilkenny County Council having deteriorated despite warnings from the department to get budgets to balance.’ This reference, as well as the thrust of the overall article and the general impression created by it, would probably be understood by most people to mean that the financial position of Kilkenny County Council had deteriorated significantly and that proper financial and management controls were not in place; this is not the case,” the official said about Monday’s article.

“The council has improved its financial position very considerably over the period 2002 to 2011, so much so that it has eliminated a 2001 year-end balance-sheet deficit of €21 million and now has a 2011 year-end balance-sheet surplus of €7 million. The council’s success in eliminating this deficit was achieved by a number of factors, including strict adherence to operational and capital budgets and the generation of significant cost reductions and income improvements.”

The official said the council “has one of the strongest financial positions for local authorities in the country. Every aspect of the council’s income and expenditure is examined and monitored in detail and substantial reductions have been made in payroll and procurement-related costs.”

At Monday night’s meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council, Cllr Paul Cuddihy (FG) also defended the councils’ financial record.

“Both councils in this county spend money responsibly,” said Cllr Cuddihy, who is also chairman of Kilkenny County Council.

Cllr Seán Ó hArgáin (Lab) pointed to the councils’ record of setting aside annual amounts for long-term projects such as The Watershed, the city walls and Rothe House. “If it were not for the fact that this council does its business well, we would not be in a position to do those projects,” he said.