Argyll and Bute Council will discuss proposals to reach a balanced budget at its meeting on Thursday 10 February.
The proposals include savings in excess of £55 million, to be achieved over the next three years. These savings need to be made so the council can meet its legal requirement to set a balanced budget.
The council has a total budget of £255.2m for 2011-12. This is £10.7m less than 2010-11.
The council is taking a medium term approach to managing its budget and will set a balanced budget over the next three years.
Based on the draft budgets we know the amount the council needs to spend will be more than the amount we collect in council tax, grants and other income, by a total of £44.4m over the three year period. The council will need to make savings in its budget over the next three years equal to these amounts. These savings are necessary to ensure the council sets a balanced budget and has a budget that is affordable and sustainable over the three years.
The budget proposals will see savings for 2011-12 of £11.9m, with further savings of £20.2m in 2012-13 and £23.6m in 2013-14. A total of £55.7m over the three years. This will balance the budget over the three years.
Some of the council’s reserves will be used to manage the differences for individual years. It will use £6.8m from reserves in 2011-12 with that amount being repaid in 2012-13 (£1.9m) and 2013-14 (£4.9m).
Almost a third of the savings proposed will come from changes to the way the council operates and will not result in changes to services.
The remainder will come from changes to front line services. Potential savings of £7.6 million, identified as part of the council’s service review process, were announced in December, and formed part of the budget consultation exercise, which began in August 2010. These proposed savings are included in the budget, although some of them, if approved, will not be achieved until the second or third year of the three-year budget approach.
Some of the savings proposed by the service reviews include:
Increasing fees and charges for some services
Transferring ownership of council halls to community trusts
Reducing the provision of cleaning and janitorial services to community halls and schools
Increasing the cost of school meals for primary school pupils
Changing our approach to recycling
Further proposed savings have been identified since then, as a result of the lower-than-anticipated settlement from the Scottish Government.
Some of the additional savings include:
Closure of Lochgilphead library
No longer providing grant support to local and community transport
Withdrawal or reduction of funding to some community groups
Removing funding for PE and swimming lessons
Closure of some public toilets
Withdrawal of music instructor service in schools
Withdrawal funding for Christmas lights erection, storage and maintenance
Reducing the amount spent on the core path network.
Removing funding for some community recycling groups.
Ending the contribution to wardens costs for sheltered housing schemes and replacing this with overnight home care and telecare services.
Reducing expenditure and services in supporting people funded services.
Withdrawal of funding from Princes Trust
The council will also increase fees and charges for services by an average of 3%. This will average a 5.5% increase for services which have VAT applied.
Councillor Dick Walsh said:
“Every part of Argyll and Bute will feel some impact of this budget. It’s not easy deciding to remove or change services but we do not have the money to do everything the way we did in the past. Councillors will decide next week how we can do this while still protecting frontline services and jobs. ”
You can read the entire budget proposal pack here. This is a lengthy PDF document and may take some time to download.