Convener hails ‘culture of prudence’ that created £5m underspend

Allan Wright – “Culture of prudence” growing at Moray Council

OVER £5MILLION WILL be added to Moray Council’s financial reserves after the local authority posted a surplus of that amount in their unaudited accounts for the last year.

However, at a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday councillor’s agreed that there should be a one-off provision of £2.8million for ‘special projects’ – including £2million towards the additional costs of created a new Elgin High School.

The special projects funding will be taken from reserves because new regulations dictate that the council share of funding the high school must come from the revenue rather than capital budget.

An allocation of £250,000 promised for the refurbishment of the ice rink at the Moray Leisure Centre is also being taken from reserves.

Council Convener Allan Wright insisted that the accounts reported “extremely encouraging figures” for the local authority which will face the task of finding £15million in savings over the next two years.

Councillor Wright added: “For some years now a culture of prudence has been growing throughout the council – taxpayers should be pleased to see how every manager and budget-holder is looking after the public purse.

“At the council budget setting of February 2014, we set aside £2.2million from reserves to balance the budget.  That money was not needed at all and we were able to add a further £4m to reserves on top of that.

“That has allowed us to fund the council’s share of the Elgin High School costs from the day-to-day budget, which means that we have again met all the conditions attached to the funding of the new school – and also means that any further delay is not in any way down to the council.

“Staff across the council are to be congratulated on the final set of figures and, with an estimated £15m of savings to be found over the next two years, I am confident the culture of prudence will continue and help us meet that challenge.”