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THE amount of money paid out for departing staff at Carmarthenshire Council has plummeted, figures have shown.

During the 2018-19 financial year, the authority agreed 63 exit packages for departing staff, 31 of which were compulsory redundancies.

The total cost of the 63 packages was £942,498, comprising redundancy costs and pension fund compensation payments.

Exit packages the previous year for 118 departing staff came to £2,870,156.

The higher figure was partly due to six £100,000 to £150,000 exit packages, while there were none in this bracket in 2018-19.

The draft statement of accounts for 2018-19 has also shown that 98 employees, including senior teaching staff, earned £60,000 to £109,999 – a rise of nine from the previous year.

Five directors earned between £121,250 and £138,250 in 2018-19, while outgoing chief executive Mark James earned £176,395.

The median – or most common – salary among the council’s 8,000 employees rose by £600 in 2018-19 to £22,561.

Earlier this year the council agreed above-inflation pay rises for many lower-paid staff, which came into effect on April 1.

The net cost of delivering key services like education and social care in 2018-19 was just under £346m, with some departments overspending and some underspending.

This £346m figure included £8m savings.

Randal Hemingway, the council’s head of financial services said: “The draft statement of accounts, as presented to the audit committee, showed an overall underspend of £593,000 which was transferred to the council’s general reserves.”

Other figures in the accounts revealed that council tax, which had gone up by 4.45% in April 2018, raised £109.5m. But the council’s share of business rates declined slightly to £59.6m.

The authority manages just over 9,100 houses, flats and bungalows, which brought in just over £39m in rental income.

Spending on capital schemes like new schools came to £66.3m.

The accounts also restated details of loan repayment requirements for the Scarlets and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

It added that the council’s overall debt at March 31, 2019, was £413m, which was within its £536m limit.

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