ANGUS Council finance spokesperson councillor Mark Salmond said the Angus Alliance budget invested record amounts in the county’s infrastructure, delivered savings through greater efficiency and offered a new level of support for community initiatives.
He stated following Thursday’s meeting in Forfar: “This is a budget that guarantees Angus’ future. We listened to residents’ views from the recent budget consultation, protecting frontline services, such as education, when making difficult savings choices and investing money where it delivers greatest value in our communities.”
The council agreed on a £6.3 million package of savings comprising departmental savings of £6.078 million and a further £270,000 of corporate efficiency savings.
Council tax in Angus has been frozen for a sixth year. Band D council tax remains at £1,072, excluding water charges, for 2012/13.
Councillor Salmond continued: “Overall funding for roads maintenance has been increased. We have maintained the record £15.4 million investment in the county’s roads infrastructure and this year £1.5 million of that is earmarked to accelerate the permanent treatment of potholes.”
The convener announced £180,000 of new funding for additional road sweeping and targeted gully clearing to alleviate flooding in known hot spots, to help reduce the repair and maintenance bill in the longer term.
Councillor Salmond also announced an investment of almost £250,000 in two new ‘survive and thrive’ funds for community-led events and local heritage attractions. He explained: “This relatively small investment from the council will support local activity, helping community organisations bring new visitors to the area and consequently more money into the local economy. Like our hugely successful community grants scheme, into which we’ve put another £100,000 this year, these new funds will empower communities, helping local organisations to survive and thrive.”
Speaking in support of the budget council leader Bob Myles commented: “The prudent approach adopted by the Angus Alliance, which has included paying off £700,000 of debt every year since we took charge, has allowed us to invest in the future, to guarantee a bright future for the people of Angus. We have been able to come up with the savings required by the flat cash settlement from the Scottish government, and still deliver the services required by residents.
“Many councils have had to embark on massive cuts and compulsory redundancies. We have not had to resort to that in Angus. This year we have again delivered as much as possible through efficiency savings - 40 per cent of departmental savings are cashable efficiency savings. Reductions in staffing costs will this year deliver £3.6 million. These measures, coupled with increased income and more focused service delivery, deliver the £6.3 million saving needed to balance this year’s budget.”
Budget highlights include investments of: £15.4 million in roads; £200,000 for a new fund to support volunteer run heritage attractions; £40,000 to support community based events; £100,000 top up of the community grants scheme; £120,000 to protect tendered bus services; £550,000 for the recreation projects fund; town centre enhancements in Arbroath and Montrose; and £12 million for a new swimming pool and sports facility in Forfar (future years capital plan)
The departmental savings total £6.078 million and a further £270,000 of corporate efficiency savings produces a total savings package of £6.348 million.
SNP Group finance spokesman, councillor Alex King, put forward a broadly similar financial plan in which savings would be some £350,000 less than those taken by the administration and total £5.728 million.