Alderney budget surplus due to sensible housekeeping
ALDERNEY has been able to implement ‘some remarkably sensible, though possibly long overdue, housekeeping reforms’ during 2019, said the chairman of the island’s Policy & Finance Committee in the 2020 Budget report.
The report showed that the island is set to end 2019 with a surplus – or underspend – of £72,085 in its revenue budget, compared to an anticipated surplus of £18,910.
James Dent said that, although the year is not over yet, the island had also balanced its accounts, despite pressures on it for fiscal austerity.
But he added that an important element of good fortune was record receipts from the gambling industry. The report showed that surpluses from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission were expected to continue at about £1.9m. next year.
But Mr Dent warned that the island should not rely on gambling receipts continuing on an ever-upward trend.
Reserves had been created including, for the first time, a reserve for the Water Board. Similar reserves have been set up to guard against uninsured events, particularly in relation to planning: ‘[We] are setting aside contingency monies to allow better to progress major projects,’ he said.
By the end of this year it is expected that the island’s capital budget will be in deficit by about £1.51m., although last year it was predicted that the cost of projects would have seen the deficit being about £4.527m.
General services projects had been expected to cost £5.40m, but had ended up requiring about £2.25m. Policy & Finance projects had had about £50,000 less than budgeted spent on them.
Mr Dent’s conclusion to the report reiterated his comment from last year that greater focus needed to be placed on the economic benefits derived from capital projects, and he said that the pipeline of such projects was moving ahead more rapidly than over the last two years.
‘Financing should be seen, not just as an end in itself, but as a tool for realising outcomes essential for our economy,’ he said.
The report includes a list of projects for 2020 which are set to cost some £5.5m, with the major ones being: an extension to Connaught Care Home; a replacement crane and harbour pontoon at the harbour; coastal defences at Corblets; cliff erosion at The Cutting/York Hill; Fort Doyle sewer improvements and the Water Board standby filtration plant.
Another decision has been the mothballing of the Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy, and Mr Dent said that wherever possible the island would use its own resources, rather than consultants, to research new initiatives.
Funding has been allocated to projects including the Fort Tourgis development plan, tidal energy and the marine development plan.
New policies have also been created to provide financial assistance to community organisations: ‘These are the backbone for much of what goes on in Alderney. It is nonetheless important to ensure that they, too, are financially prudent,’ said Mr Dent.