Sark committees’ underspends yield a £87,000 surplus
SARK’s government recorded a surplus of more than £87,000 last year, with almost every committee underspending its budget.
The island’s Finance & Resources Committee is set to review its budgeting processes as part of its recently-enhanced mandate.
Committee chairman Sebastien Moerman said the most significant under-spends were £26,000 by the douzaine, £23,500 by Harbours and £16,000 by Education, leading to a surplus of £87,769 for 2017.
‘Actual expenditure was up by £7,733 on the 2016 total [a surplus of £101,900] but most committees with expenditure responsibilities have spent less than budget,’ he said.
‘Particular exceptions were procureur costs, over budget by £23,836 due to increased needs.’
The balance of reserves held at the end of the year was £3,350,123.
‘It is important that the island retains a substantial amount in reserve in the event of funds being required for such items as unforeseen extraordinary repairs to island properties, capital expenditure, and to provide services or facilities for the community,’ he said.
Conseiller Moerman said changes to F&R’s mandate would allow it to identify more accurately committees’ budget requirements.
‘This should result in more efficient and transparent budgeting, which could result in freeing up funds for other essential or desirable work and/or controlling tax raising,’ he said.
‘Methods of effectively and fairly raising the revenue needed to provide for these requirements will be continuously reviewed.
‘This is important to allow longer-term planning to be introduced, so that improvements when identified as necessary can be properly examined and costed, so that best value for money is achieved.
‘The question of how to fund such improvements can then be properly addressed, whether from reserves, taxation or charges for the service. We can only implement plans when it is clear what they will cost and how we will fund them.’
Conseiller Moerman said his committee was also reviewing the way in which cash funds are deposited.
‘[F&R] has taken the view that deposits should continue to be held in low/zero risk accounts, although these accounts currently pay very low rates of interest, as opposed to higher interest investments which carry a higher risk,’ he said.
‘Cash funds are currently held in three banks and consideration is being given to moving some funds to a fourth account in order to spread the risk.’
Chief Pleas meets today.