BUDGET CHANGES FOR Moray being proposed at a crunch meeting of the Council tomorrow afternoon have been published by the SNP opposition group.
The main thrust of the changes being proposed would be through “management restructuring, backroom efficiencies and increased income” – as well as ending the controversial Western Link Road project in Elgin.
SNP Councillors say that they have identified more than £3million of additional savings over the next two years when compared with the Independent/Tory Administrations plans – as well as being able to propose that several cuts being proposed by the ruling administration are reversed.
Using the Administration proposals as a starting point, the opposition group will propose a redesign of the Moray Council management structure, claiming that would save £125,000 this year and a further £375,000 next year. Increased energy efficiency would also be introduced on Council properties that the SNP say will save £250,000 this year and £300,000 next.
The largest single saving being proposed would be through setting “target savings” of 2% on non-frontline services in social care and expected social care administration efficiencies, bringing, it is claimed, savings of £820,000 this year.
All of the measures being proposed would yield £1.70million this year and £1.35million in 2017/18.
Administration plans to increase school meals by 10% would be cut to 5%, while the proposed increase in music tuition would be reduced from 20% to 5%. A total of £257,000 would be restored to budgets that are marked for reduction by the ruling administration.
Announcing the proposals SNP group leader Gary Coull said: “We have worked hard as a group, gathering information and sharing ideas.
“By doing that we believe that an additional £3 million of savings are achievable. This allows us to put quarter of a million pounds back into key economic development budgets, properly supporting the Citizens Advice Bureau and reducing the impact of school meals and music tuition increases.
“This can be achieved by making serious efforts to restructure the Council’s management, significantly increasing efforts to gain energy efficiency savings, increasing income by selling advertising opportunities on the Council’s bus fleet and in our leisure facilities and ending the controversial Western Link Road project. All areas that the public have been calling for us to look at.
“By taking a different, more responsible approach to the budget we have identified greater savings while still maintaining critical services and, crucially, keeping in place the SNP’s promise of a Council Tax freeze.
“The Council’s Administration have questions to answer over how they took the lazy option of an 18% Council Tax rise causing undue worry and concern to many people, but have since then found a significant underspend, as well as more savings.
“How hard did they really try to find savings in the first place? This shows just how much of a knee jerk reaction their plan for a Council Tax hike was. Our plan means a smaller budget deficit next year rather than a ticking financial time bomb.
“Independent and Tory Councillors in Moray would see us sleepwalking towards bankruptcy next year, which is completely irresponsible.”
Reaction will follow on insideMoray tomorrow.