Council workers have been briefed on the budget proposals due to be debated at a meeting of the Full Council next Wednesday afternoon.
The briefing assures staff that no redundancies or service reductions are anticipated for the year 2016/17, but that the council faces a huge deficit in subsequent years.
Agenda papers for the meeting are due to be published on Friday. These will contain greater detail of where any savings are to be made.
The message to staff, from chief executive Roddy Burns, states:
‘The Administration Group’s budget proposals for 2016/17 will be considered at a special meeting of the council to be held on 17 February 2016.
The key elements of the budget are:
The Council budget is for expenditure of £202Million in 2016/17.
Freeze in council tax – this will be the 9th successive year of a council tax freeze. It was widely reported that the Administration Group were planning on including an increase in council tax of 18%. This proposal has been withdrawn due to the significant increase in the sanctions that would be imposed by the Scottish Government if a council chose to increase the tax. For our Council the financial sanction was increased from £1.1Million to £6Million.
Savings – reductions of £3.5Million have been identified against current budgets, and of this it is proposed that £0.7Million will be for one year only. Therefore, recurring annual savings will be £2.8M.
The one-year savings include reductions to training budgets, meaning no expenditure on external trainers, training or conferences. There will be few exceptions to this, such as health and safety, specific requirements for jobs such as apprentices and SVQs for care workers, and specialised training for equipment, vehicles and operational systems.
Filling vacant posts will undergo more scrutiny. Managers will have to get Corporate Management Team approval to fill any post (apart from teachers because of the Scottish Government requirements around teacher numbers).
None of the savings identified put any members of staff at risk and should not result in a reduction to any Council services.
The council will have useable reserves of £18.9Million at the end of this year, and £6.3Million of this will be required to balance the books and maintain services.
However, all these measures add up to the Council starting the financial year this April with a recurring annual shortfall of £7Million.We can use our reserves this year, but this presents a huge challenge for 17/18.
Due to continuing growth in demand for services and prices continuing to increase, current estimates for year commencing April 2017 indicate that the recurring shortfall will double to £14Million.
With this in mind a report will be taken to the Council meeting in March recommending extensive engagement with communities on the financial situation and the impact on Council services.
As most staff live in Moray we will be aiming to utilise existing links with staff, their clubs, societies and social networks to promote this engagement programme. More information will be circulated about opportunities to engage and influence changes to Council services over the coming months.’
Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 92,500 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.
Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.
Headquartered in Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.