Council chief 'very happy' with return from expenses spending

Mayo County Council, Chief Executive Peter Hynes

Mayo County Council, Chief Executive Peter Hynes

The chief executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, said he was "very happy" with the return the council got from its spending on hospitality on council credit cards. The issue was raised by Fine Gael councillor Jarlath Munnelly on Monday, during a discussion on the Local Goverment Audit Services Statutory Audit Report for 2014. Cllr Munnelly pointed out an item in the report compiled by Hugh Neville, an auditor with the Department of the Environment and Local Government, that read: "Expenses paid through credit cards for senior management, including a sample of invoices processed through the expenditure system for hospitality were examined by me in the course of the 2014 audit. While improvements continue to be made, the information supplied in some cases was not detailed enough. Given the poor state of the finances of the council, the level of hospitality and related expenses currently incurred by the council should be capped."

Cllr Munnelly said: "There is a comment around the expenditure on credit cards, the auditor wrote, 'Given the poor state of the finances of the council, the level of hospitality and related expenses currently incurred by the council should be capped.' That's a recommendation from an auditor in an auditor's report. I think that we as elected members should really reflect on and should be mindful of it. On one hand, we're running a deficit and on the other hand the auditor is saying we're spending money on hospitality we don't have. I'd like to see what we're going to do about that."

Head of finance for the council, Peter Duggan, told the meeting: "In relation to credit cards it's something we will be looking at, the total spend in that area was in order of €50,000 for the year." The chief executive added: "In terms of hospitality, we have been extremely successful in this county in the last year in attracting inward investment, some of which we arguably should not have targeted, so I'm very happy with the level of productivity in that area and very happy to have any debate with anyone on the return on investment." The chief executive concluded that the report would be considered by the audit committee of the council.

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