Cautious welcome for budget surplus after 'unusual' year
A budget surplus of €393,863 for Wexford County Council in 2014 received a cautious welcome at the meeting.
Legacy debts of around €10m remain for Wexford County Council and the meeting heard that at the current rate it will take up to 15 years to repay this.
Finance Officer Annette O'Neill said: '2014 was an extraordinary year of change with the establishment of Irish Water and the Local Government Reform Act and the level of change we experienced is material to the accounts.'
Ms O'Neill welcomed the fact that the local authority has reported a surplus for the first time in years.
'It's obviously positive but it must be viewed with caution. The closing balance in 2014 was €9,873,539. It was a year of highly unusual business for the local government sector. We over spent on expenditure.'
Ms O'Neill said the council is placing a high emphasis on debt management, adding that the NPPR (Non-Principal Private Residence) was one of the council's success stories.
Chairperson Cllr Malcolm Byrne said the €10m deficit is still serious. Cllr Michael Whelan asked why revenue from car parking fees had fallen off by €100,000, adding that the €4.5m loss in rates is also a concern.
Ms O'Neill said the council had to 'clean up' the rates situation.
'There are a lot of arrears which are not collectable. It's now five years down the tracks in some cases and a lot of it is statute barred. The impact of that on the accounts is frightening.'
Cllr James Browne aid if there is an uplift in the economy the additional money should be shared between the four districts.