Cllr O’Leary who is also chair of the council’s finance committee said, “Indications are that this year’s budget will involve a cut of up to €12 million in expenditure.
“While the council can do nothing about cuts in the funding it receives from central government, every effort must be made to protect core services.
“From the figures we have seen to date, it looks like areas such as housing maintenance, road resurfacing, and staffing are being targeted for cuts.
“This is simply unacceptable. These areas have taken the brunt of cutbacks in recent years and cannot be squeezed any further.
“The fact is there are other areas in the council’s budget where we could make savings without reducing services to the public.
“Currently the council leases office space in buildings across the city. Many of these properties are vacant due to staff reductions, and there is also spare office capacity in City Hall.
“For example, two floors of Abbeycourt House, leased by the council for €50,000 a year, are currently unused.
“The council should audit its properties and sublet those which are not in use if it cannot get out of the lease.
“In the past year €4.5 million was spent on machinery, much of it on plant hire. Frequently the council hires staff along with machinery from contractors, even though it has qualified staff of its own.
“The local authority could follow the example of private companies which have cut their costs by purchasing machinery rather than hiring it.
“This would pay for itself within two to three years and reduce overheads.
“The Lord Mayors’ salary of €114,200 should be reduced to €35,000, close to the average wage.
“In the current climate there is no excuse for paying someone this kind of money to fulfil a purely honorary position.
“The payment of €6,000 to the Deputy Lord Mayor should be abolished.
“€145,700 is earmarked for conference expenses in the draft budget.
“Sinn Féin believes there should be a complete moratorium on conference payments in the current economic climate.
“Councillors who are chairs of Strategic Policy Committees receive an additional payment of €10,000 for attending four committee meetings per year.
“Abolition of these payments would save €200,000 over a full council term of five years.
“Plainly there are areas of council expenditure which could be trimmed without hitting services to the public.
“Sinn Féin will be putting forward alternative proposals to the council at Monday’s meeting which would ensure the cuts fall where they have the least impact on families and communities who are already struggling to get by,” he said.