Less than 70pc of rates collected

COUNCIL OWED €6.8M IN ARREARS

WEXFORD COUNTY Council collected less than 70 per cent of rates during 2011, with rate arrears growing by €2.2 million in the space of 12 months.

The local authority started off 2011 with €4.6 million in rates arrears and by the end of the year this figure had grown to €6.8 million.

Some €826,444 was written off and the total rates for collection during last year came to €21.9 million, of which €15.1 million was collected.

During last Tuesday's County Council meeting the Head of Finance Annette O'neill pointed out that 75 per cent of customers are paying their rates on time.

Meanwhile, the County Council collected just under forty per cent of commercial water charges during 2011. Some €13.2 million was due for collection but only €5.1 million was collected by the authority - leaving just over €8 million in arrears. This arrears figure is down slightly on January 2011 however when arrears were reported at €9.2 million.

It was pointed out by the Head of Finance in her report that debt management is an 'ever increasing area of concern' for the council, particularly in light of reduced central funding.

'Increased efforts will continue to be made to maximise collection levels for outstanding monies,' said Ms. O'neill in her report. 'Council staff continue to work with customers in preparing payment plans to facilitate those in real difficulties,' she added.

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