The Highland Council has agreed a budget for 2017-18
16th February 2017
The Highland Council has agreed a budget for 2017-18, which includes a council tax increase of 3%.
A package of £10.689m savings were agreed for 2017-18, on top of £5.824m savings agreed in previous budgets.
Overall, the budget gap of £20.344m has been met by increasing Council Tax income by £3.510m, increasing income by £2.841m and reducing expenditure by £12.819m. The Council also agreed to remove the planned reduction in funding to NHS Highland for adult care and fund this by £1.174 from Reserves.
Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: "This is a budget which seeks to retain jobs which are vital to communities across the Highlands, and to protect education, roads and winter maintenance, adult services and especially older people."
She added: "I would like to thank colleagues across the chamber for their engagement over this budget. We have a consensus which has been achieved through a significant amount of discussion and listening to what is important to communities. I also want to thank the Unions for their commitment to the process and to Officers for their hard work in helping to pull together the savings proposals and information required for decisions to be made."
Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said: “People have made it clear to us that their priorities are children, education, roads and adult care. It is also clear that most people are happy to pay a bit more council tax to prevent £3.5m further cuts to services, so I am pleased that this proposal was unanimously agreed.
“This has been a very difficult budget with having to bridge a gap of £20m between expenditure and funding. We have done our best to reduce the savings where we can to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and safeguard employment.”
The savings agreed are set out in booklets A and B in the Council papers with two amendments.
The Council AGREED:-
a 3% increase in Council Tax for 2017/18 as per Paragraph 8.1;
the savings proposals from February 2016 as outlined in Paragraph 7.2 of the report;
the specific proposals for additional income and reduced expenditure as per the savings proposals outlined in Booklet A and detailed in Booklet B - subject to the following changes -
- an additional sum of £1.174m for the NHS Highland settlement to be sourced from balances;
- Community Services – to remove the £60k saving from Bulky Uplifts and increase the capacity of the Green Waste Collection by £60k;
- Development & Infrastructure – to add £279k from residual funds to mitigate the reduction to the Employability Funds on the basis that early clarity would be sought on the full employability spend and the additional ESF monies; and
- Care & Learning – to provide reassurance that there were no proposals to close partner centres whilst scoping exercises were being undertaken and any future proposals would go to Area Committees for discussion in due course;
the list of posts to be removed under the Employee Early Release Scheme as detailed in Paragraph 10.8 – on the basis that further information on the details of costs would be provided in due course;
to meet the cost of this Scheme from Reserves as detailed in Paragraph 10.9; and
to rebuild balances as detailed in Section 11.6 of the report.
Highland Councillors agreed a council tax increase of 3% which will mean an increase of £35.93 per annum on a Band D property. Overall, the budget gap of £15,146 million has been met by a package of savings which includes increasing Council Tax income by £3.448 million, increasing income by £3,059 million, setting a target of £2,250 million to be saved through Redesign and reducing expenditure by £5.1 million.
Redesign is about the Council being more open-minded to new ways of delivering services, more commercially-minded to raise income to support services and jobs across the region and being more community-minded, listening locally and supporting more community-run services. The Highland Council is seeking to release over £2.2 million in savings this year through redesign projects.
An election will take place for Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council on Wednesday 21 February 2018. The maximum permitted membership for the Community Council is 7 and as 8 nominations have been received, the 1349 electors in the community council area are being invited to cast their vote via a postal ballot.
Over three thousand people visited Inverness Town House last weekend to see for themselves the completion of interior works on the public historic Grade A listed building following recent renovations. Around 2,000 visitors passed through the Town House doors on Saturday 10th and another 1,200 people on Sunday 11th February.
Nomination packs for prospective candidates for the Caol and Mallaig Ward by-election are now available from The Highland Council's website. The by-election is being held following the sad death of Councillor Billy MacLachlan who was one of three Councillors representing Ward 11.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time. It is not intended to imply that any individual route is entirely snow and ice free and drivers must be aware that conditions can change rapidly and make their own assessment of conditions for travelling.
In recognition that roads are a high priority for communities in Highland the Administration at The Highland Council will be putting forward a budget on Thursday (15 February) that protects the budget for local roads. Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: "We have nearly 7,000 kilometres of roads in the Highlands and this network is vital to our rural communities and lifeline services.
The Highland Council is asking stakeholders and members of the public for feedback on new draft guidance aimed at ensuring high quality designs for traditional, replacement and new shopfronts. Not only does the draft Shopfront Design Guide: Planning Guidance provide advice to help promote good quality applications but it encourages developers and applicants to consider design at the earliest stage in their proposals.
The Highland Council Budget team have agreed their final budget proposals which will go to Council for agreement on 15 February 2018. Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "We have done everything we can to protect frontline services and jobs in a good budget.
The timetable for the election for the return of a councillor for the Caol and Mallaig ward of The Highland Council has been announced today (Monday 5 February) The by-election is being held following the sad death of Councillor Billy MacLachlan who was one of three Councillors representing Ward 11. The other Ward members are Councillors Allan Henderson (Independent) and Ben Thompson (Independent) The Notice of Election and Nomination Form will be published on the Council's website www.highland.gov.uk (external link) on Tuesday 13 February.
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