Cookstown most prudent council

COOKSTOWN district council has been revealed as one of the least debt-ridden in Northern Ireland by the chief government auditor.

However, the bad news is that the financial burden carried by Cookstown residents could increase sharply when the local council merges with the neighbouring council areas of Dungannon and Magherafelt.

Cookstown’s local authority owed £1,500,000 at the end of March 2011, a decrease from the previous year of £100,000, which works out at approximately £41 owed for every local resident.

According to the report, Dungannon Council currently owes £3.7m, a reduction of £300,000 from the previous year.

Throughout Northern Ireland, debt-ridden councils owe £449m, an increase of more than £9m from March 31, 2010.

Across the province council borrowing stands at £248 per person based on population- which is six times the Cookstown average.

The figures are contained in the Northern Ireland Audit Office’s (NIAO) annual ‘Report by the Chief Local Government Auditor.’ The report also shows that Cookstown Council had managed to reduce the amount of days lost through sickness and absenteeism over the past number of years.

In 2010/11 7 days per employee were lost at the local council, a slight reduction from the 2009/10 figures.

The Chief Local Government Auditor Louise Mason published her report on the exercise by local government auditors of their functions in the year up to March 2012.

She highlighted areas of strength and areas for improvement across a range of local councils.

Continued on page 2