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Thursday 16 August 2018

Snapshots from local authority audits

Poolbeg Incinerator in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron
Poolbeg Incinerator in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

Buttevant Street design, Cork County Council: Budgeted at €3.65m, it encountered "major delays" and "significantly increased costs" due to unforeseen archaeology excavation works.

The costs to date are €6.14m, and the project was substantially completed in August 2016, 10 months late.

Funding of €2.75m was approved by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), with the remaining €900,000 to come from the council's own resources.

The auditor said both TII funding and the council's contribution were yet to be "formally secured". The council said it was engaged with TII to recoup the additional costs.

Tallaght to Templeogue cycle route, South Dublin County Council

The contract tender was for €1.99m excluding VAT, but additional claims were lodged by the contractor but disputed by the local authority.

The final account was agreed at €3.43m after conciliation, €1.44m above the tender price. The contractor was paid an additional €145,000 above this amount for additional works.

The council said the decision to broaden the scope of works mid-contract was beyond its control.

District Heating system, Dublin City Council

Designed to heat homes and offices using waste heat from the Poolbeg Incinerator, funding of €10.9m will need to be identified by the council. It said it was "keen" for the project to go ahead, given the significant investment made to date and environmental benefits which would accrue. It said the project was being progressed, following completion of a detailed financial appraisal and a market research report was under way. An examination of different business models to progress the project was also in progress.

Cyber crime, Meath County Council

In October 2016, the council was the target of attempted cyber crime when €4.3m was transferred to a bank account in Hong Kong. The attempted theft was "quickly detected" by staff, and the funds were intercepted. They were returned in June 2017 to the council's bank account.

The council said it had carried out a review of its internal ICT systems to "reduce exposure", and was implementing changes to protect itself.

Unused housing, Westmeath County Council

In May 2016, an approved housing body repaid a loan to the council of €248,000. This loan was issued by the council in June 2007 to purchase a house in Castlepollard to house people with physical disabilities. In October 2015, the council was advised that the house was never occupied, and it sought repayment of the loan.

The council was advised to "periodically" check that properties were used.

Gorey Courthouse, Wexford County Council

The local authority had a lease on the old courthouses at an annual rent of €25,000, but allowed it to fall into disrepair. In 2016, it decided to buy out the lease, which cost €790,000, which included compensation for the "state of disrepair" of the building.

The auditor said the council needed to ensure that management and maintenance of its buildings were "of a standard to prevent a recurrence of this serious matter".

The council said that the situation was "complicated" due to the historic nature of the lease, coupled with changes in ownership, and that it had recouped €100,000 from the Court Services, with "lessons learned", informing a new property unit that it had established.

Irish Independent

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