Aberdeenshire Council will meet to set its budget on Thursday, February 9
The budget, which will be presented by the Council’s Administration, comes after several months of careful deliberation by councillors, including opportunities for pre-budget scrutiny of the proposals from the various political groupings, as well as a major public engagement exercise
The finance settlement from the Scottish Government, which was announced in December, saw Aberdeenshire Council allocated £394 million in revenue and £30.7 million towards capital expenditure. Together with income from Council Tax, non-domestic rates and other charges, the council is expected to set a budget to deliver local services worth £540 million and continue its ambitious capital programme of building new schools, leisure centres and roads projects.
The core settlement which Aberdeenshire Council is expected to receive is £7.4 million less than in 2016, with no provision for inflation or increased demand on services resulting from a growing and changing population.
In order to achieve a balanced budget, councillors will consider a package of savings worth over £24 million and debate a potential Council Tax rise.
Potential savings cover areas including procurement, treasury management, a re-profiling of the council's Capital Plan, along with service proposals covering delayed recruitment to vacant posts, the re-designing of services, increased charging to cover costs and the continued disposal of surplus assets including property.
Councillors will also have the opportunity to decide whether to pass across all the funding for the Integrated Joint Board, which supports health and social care services.
The budget has been informed by the major engagement exercise which took place in December 2016. The campaign reached an audience of almost 180,000 through social media, with 3,514 visits to the budget webpages.
Councillors have used the responses from the engagement to inform their budget proposals which include raising charges for some services including letting out council buildings, community bedding plants, out of school clubs, sports and physical activities and investing in renewable energy and solar panels.
The engagement activity also advised that respondents were generally supportive of raising Council Tax, and supported a range of savings proposals including streamlining waste collection routes, less frequent cleaning of bus shelters and reviewing the school transport network.
For the first time in nine years, councils across Scotland will be given the opportunity to consider raising Council Tax by up to 3%. Any rise would come on top of an additional £8.3 million anticipated through Council Tax reform which affects bands E to H and which has already been legislated for.