CASH-strapped Donegal County Council is effectively being forced to fund interest on the €320,000 in fees owed to it by a local refuse collector, a judge said this week.
Judge Paul Kelly was speaking at Letterkenny District Court this morning where he gave Jim Ferry (56), of Rossbracken, Letterkenny, seven days to comply with a court order forcing him to provide details of his income.
He had been ordered before this week’s sitting after failing to appear last month.
Ferry, of Ferry’s Refuse Limited, is being pursued by the council for non-payment of €320,000 in fees. The debt is outstanding since 2010 and is personally owed by him.
Council solicitor, Ms Lisa Finnegan, told Judge Kelly that Ferry had failed to comply with a court order to supply a statement of means.
He had instead handed in a self-assessment tax return which was not what the court had ordered.
Ferry’s solicitor, Mr Kevin McElhinney, accepted his client had failed to comply with the order. However, he said this was because ‘without prejudice’ negotiations between him and the council had been ongoing, but these negotiations had failed to reach a conclusion on Tuesday.
Mr McElhinney said his client had been making payments but these were going to landfill charges.
However Judge Kelly said: “He is liable to pay both (the outstanding fees and the landfill charges). He was choosing to pay one and not the other; the net effect is the council is funding your client’s interest on the money he owes them and that’s just not good enough.”
He said payments which were being made by Ferry to Donegal County Council were clearly marked on records as ‘landfill’ and were therefore not related to outstanding debts.
Ferry was ordered to re-appear at the March 4, sitting of the court.