Still reeling from having to reverse a decision on Libraries and forced into an apology over the Falconer Museum in Forres, Moray Council are facing more questions over revelations that they paid out £3million in overtime in less than two years – and have filled a senior post paying over £100k a year without the knowledge of the majority of councillors.
The overtime costs came from a member of the Save our Libraries Moray group, who had been handed tables by a council employee showing that the local authority had paid £1.67 million in staff overtime during the 2011/12 financial year that later increased to £1.83million when standby cover payments were added.
Already this year the authority has paid out over £1million in overtime and standby payments, despite Moray Council pledging to close libraries as part of their bid to meet a budget shortfall of £30million over the next three years.
Defending the payments, council leader Allan Wright told the Northern Scot: “Overtime is something that we have looked at within the council and we will revisit it.”
Mr McCann, who lives in Hopeman where the library is scheduled to close at the end of this month, said: “I wonder if elected members are aware of how much overtime has been spent – in these days of austerity they are closing our library, and yet they have paid out £1.1million in just seven months on overtime in Moray.
“The administration say they need to make cuts but they start making them on essential services rather than looking more closely if overtime is really needed.”
Meanwhile a member of the Council administration, Councillor Douglas Ross, has described a decision by the Chief Executive Roddy Burns to fill the vacant post of Corporate Director of Legal Services at a cost of £115,000 a year as “shady”.
That decision was taken only after informing the four group leaders in the Council, and not, as Councillor Ross insists should have been the case, by presenting a case for keeping the post to the Full Council.
Councillor Ross said: “I thought the days of shady deals being done in the corridors of Moray Council were over – but that does not seem to be the case. The officer appointed to the temporary post is due to retire in August on a final salary pension – you don’t have to be a mathematical wizard to see the implication this temporary appointment will have on taxpayers’ money.”
Councillor Ross said that the Chief Executive had undertaken to put the case for filling the post to a special meeting of the full council in January, while a spokesman for Moray Council pointed out: “Any person in post for less than 12 months will not receive the full pension entitlements of that pay grade, just a percentage relative to the number of months served at that level.”