Council cut spending by €4.8m

Laois County Council have cut costs by nearly €5 million with job losse representing the biggest area of saving mone.

Laois County Council have cut costs by nearly €5 million with job losse representing the biggest area of saving mone.

The savings were made over the past two years, mainly through shedding 118 jobs, but frontline services are not affected according to the County Manager Peter Carey.

The cost saving measures taken are in line with a national reform of all local authorities, which has saved the taxpayer a total of €830 million over the past four years. Laois are counted among other local authorities who are leading the way with the reforms, according to a new report by the County and City Managers’ Association.

The biggest saving in Laois was made by cutting 118 council jobs, 20 per cent of the workforce. Cutting the number of Directors from five down to three and sharing staff with other county councils also saved wages.

“Commercial rates have not been increased for a number of years and efficiencies through changed worked practices, additional shared services and depot rationalisation have delivered much needed savings,” he said.

He believes further savings can be made by sharing services and staff with other local authorities.

“The sharing of services across the local government sector holds enormous potential not only for the delivery of cost savings and efficiency gains but of actually enhancing the quality and range of services available to citizens and business. Laois County Council will continue to work with Local Authorities across the sector to deliver on this,” Mr Carey said.

More cost saving was done by restructuring of the Council’s Machinery Yard and closing area offices, with staff re-deployed. Construction of a new cell at Kyletalisha Landfill was cancelled, meaning the facility will be full before the end of 2012. Water services restructuring continues.

A close look at their energy provider and public lighting also realised savings, The council now run their own debt collection service in their Finance department, saving more money.

The staff’s flexitime scheme was revised, and all pay was standardised to a fortnightly timetable. Mr Carey praised the co-operation of his staff on achieving the cost saving measures.

“The success to date has been achieved by the staff of Laois County Council, through both unions, management and elected members working together to create greater efficiencies. However, this is an ongoing process and we will continue to implement the policies and changes necessary to deliver first class services at minimal cost,” he said.

The council’s total budget for 2011 and 2012 was €132 million. Approximately €30 million of this came from the Local Government Fund, which was cut by €2.5 million.