Minutes 2012

Minutes of Special Meeting of Sligo County Council held on Thursday 9th August, 2012 at 9.30am in The Council Chamber, County Hall, Riverside, Sligo


  • Councillor Baker,
  • Councillor Barrett,
  • Councillor Barry,
  • Councillor Bree,
  • Councillor D. Cawley,
  • Councillor V. Cawley,
  • Councillor Clarke,  
  • Councillor Collery,
  • Councillor Devins,
  • Councillor Fleming,
  • Councillor Keaney,
  • Councillor Leonard,
  • Councillor Lundy,
  • Councillor Lyons,
  • Councillor MacManus,
  • Councillor McGarry,
  • Councillor McGrath,
  • Councillor McLoughlin,
  • Councillor Mullaney,
  • Councillor Mulvey,
  • Councillor Murray,
  • Councillor O’Grady
  • Councillor Queenan.


  • Mr H. Kearns, County Manager
  • Ms M. Leydon, Head of Finance
  • Ms D. Clarke, Director of Services
  • Ms P. R. Gallagher, A/ Director of Services
  • Mr F. O’Driscoll, A/ Director of Services
  • Mr P. Doyle, Senior Project Engineer
  • Mr S. O’Toole, Senior Executive Engineer
  • Mr J. Moran, Senior Executive Officer
  • Mr J. Murphy, Senior Executive Officer
  • Mr G. Browne, Administrative Officer
  • Mr P. McCarrick, A/Assistant Planner-Procurement Officer
  • Mr K. Colreavy, Administrative Officer
  • Ms M. McGovern, Clerical Officer


  • Councillor M. Gormley


The Cathaoirleach, Councillor V. Cawley presided.



The Cathaoirleach, Councillor Veronica Cawley opened the meeting by introducing Brendan Foster, Partner, Business Consulting with Grant Thornton and Ingrid Blake, Manager, Business Consulting, Grant Thornton.  

The Cathaoirleach gave a brief overview of the background to this meeting as follows:

At the December 2011 meeting of Sligo County Council,  members passed a motion to ‘To ask the Cathaoirleach to set up a cross party deputation to meet the Minister for Environment, Phil Hogan regarding the serious financial situation of Sligo County Council.’

The delegation, led by then Cathaoirleach Councillor Michael Fleming, met with Minister Phil Hogan on 31st January 2012.  The Minister was briefed on the serious state of the Council’s finances, with particular reference to the high water services and payroll costs.  The Minister acknowledged the difficulties faced by Sligo County Council, and said he would instruct his officials to work with the officials of the Council with a view to addressing the issues outlined at the meeting.

Following further discussions it was decided to conduct an independent appraisal of Sligo County Council’s finances. This appraisal was conducted by Grant Thornton, Financial Consultants, their report was circulated to Members on Thursday last, and it will now be presented by Brendan Foster and Ingrid Blake of Grant Thornton.

The main points of the presentation by Mr Foster were as follows:

Scope of Report

  • Current financial position
  • Operating environment and constraints
  • Options and recommendations
  • Relationship with Sligo Borough Council

Key Issues

  • Investment in infrastructure assets that are not revenue generating.
  • Staff legacies restricting the benefits of shared services or outsourcing; capital project staff paid from the revenue account.
  • Debt Collection.
  • Pension funding gap.
  • Relationship with Sligo Borough Council.

Recommendations – 1 year (short term)

  • Replace bank overdraft with state injected funds of €10m.
  • County Charge– review of basis and budget to actual reconciliations.
  • Acting arrangements to cease - uniform procedures in place.
  • Review of sick days and overtime. Implementation of annualised hours.
  • Budget and planning process review.

Recommendations – 2 - 5 years (medium term)

  • Sligo County Council to be included under Irish Water pilot study scheme.
  • Efficiencies and shared services.
  • Debt collections structure.
  • Land aggregation scheme.
  • Merger of Sligo County Council and Sligo Borough Council.

Recommendations – National Policies

  • Voluntary redundancy programme.
  • Pension fund mechanism.
  • Debt collection unit.
  • Local Authority Clearance Certificate.

The Cathaoirleach agreed to take questions from the members in groups of 3 and then Mr Foster and Ms Blake or a member of the executive would respond.

Following a discussion and in response to various questions from the members Mr Foster stated the following:


  • The report outlines achievable solutions but Central Government has to intervene on certain issues which have been identified in the report. The Council has done all it can under certain constraints but immediate intervention is now required by the government.
  • From a financial perspective the County Charge and its reconciliation should be reviewed.
  • The cost of pensions in the long term future needs to be considered.
  • Annualised hours could be looked at on a seasonal need and be more flexible throughout the rest of the year.


Ms. Leydon, Head of Finance, responded to a query on mortgage repayments by confirming that all amounts are accounted for and reconciled with the Bank and correspondingly verified by the Local Government Auditor

Following further discussion by the members, the Cathaoirleach read out notices of motion as follows:

Proposed by Councillor M. Fleming
Seconded by Councillor H. Keaney 


“To note the report and propose that it be forwarded to the Minister, as a matter of urgency.”

Councillor M. Clarke asked to be recorded as Abstaining from this motion.

Proposed by Councillor D. Bree
Seconded by Councillor S. MacManus 


“That we note the contents of the financial appraisal presented by Grant Thornton and that a copy of the report be submitted to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government forthwith, and with that we request the Minister to meet an all party delegation from the Council to discuss the contents of the report.”

Councillor M. Clarke asked to be recorded as Abstaining from this motion.

Proposed by Councillor D. Bree
Seconded by Councillor S. MacManus 


“That the minutes and the recommendations of the Council Efficiency Review Group which was established in 2010 be circulated to the members of the Council.”

Councillor Bree queried the order of presentation of motions, stating that the first motion handed in following the commencement of the meeting was one proposed by him and seconded by Councillor MacManus.

Ms Leydon stated that she was Co-Ordinator and Chair of the Council Efficiency Review Group and that the details of their meetings were simple operational issues and in-house details such as stationery, waste management and energy saving.

The County Manager, Mr Kearns added that a report would be circulated to the members shortly based on Sligo’s input into the national report on local government efficiencies.

Following a discussion the members agreed that a delegation to meet the Minister would be selected if and when the Minister agrees to meet.


2.  CIRCULAR FIN 09/2012:

Proposed by Councillor G. Mullaney
Seconded by Councillor H. Keaney 


“To note Circular Fin 09/2012 LGF General Purposes Allocation 2012.”



Proposed by Councillor M. Fleming
Seconded by Councillor H. Keaney


“To note June 2012 Financial report.”

The Cathaoirleach thanked Mr Foster and Ms Blake from Grant Thornton for their work on the report and their attendance at the special meeting.


The meeting ended at 12 noon.



Meeting Date 09/08/2012