The perfect storm of local government devolution combined with ongoing budget cuts have created a £6.2m blackhole and an added burden for Londonderry ratepayers.
Local MLAs and a cross party representation from Derry City and Strabane District Council were provided with an overview of recent budgetary cuts and the huge financial impact on the new Council, at a recent meeting.
Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Mayor, Elisha McCallion advised attendees of the cumulative impact of recent cuts imposed upon the Council in relation to a range of grant and funding streams from Central Government departments, alongside potential shortfalls in budgets relating to the transfer of functions to the new Council following Local Government reform.
She explained how the budgetary impacts had a disproportionately unfair impact on the Derry City and Strabane District area and Central Government intervention was needed if the area is to progress with its ambitious plans for regeneration and investment.
She said the region had lost up to £6.2m in funding with the four main areas of concern relating to the rates support grant, the transferring of functions, the disproportionate liability from a number of transferring assets and the lack of capital funds to go along with DSD functions that will allow the Council to bring forward capital projects.
John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council said Council would be continuing to press Central Government to recognise the disproportional impact the budgetary cuts has had on Derry City and Strabane District Council and for them to work alongside Council to secure additional funding to minimise the continued burden on ratepayers.
Mr Kelpie was adamant that the new Council would not be detracted from its focus on growth and investment or on delivering high quality services for its citizens and businesses.
He said the new Derry City and Strabane District Council was very positive about its future and was committed towards investment and creating jobs for the city and region. He outlined how significant amounts in terms of capital investment has been achieved to date and the Council is keen for that investment to continue and with that in mind will need the budgetary impact to be reduced significantly.