Savings will be achieved, investment maintained and council tax frozen again in Argyll and Bute Council’s budget for 2014/15, the authority announced this week.
In recognition of the importance of tourism for the area, there will also be a £140,000 investment in the submarine museum planned for Helensburgh, as well as £50,000 over two years for Kilmartin Museum.
Council staff will get a nationally agreed 1% pay rise, with the living wage hourly rate of £7.65 per hour for the lowest paid.
Some charges will have increase ‘broadly in line with inflation’, but there will be no inflationary increases for school meals, meals on wheels, community alarms, Blue Badges or community-based care services.
Council leader Dick Walsh said: “Our budget planning approach ensures that we deliver key services that work for people now, that we prepare for future financial challenge and that we invest for economic growth.
“We have a flat cash settlement (the same amount of government funding as last year) for 2014/15, and anticipate it for next year.
“We will therefore use these two years of relative financial stability to identify where we need to make changes to future service delivery and how we can make best use of the resources we have.
“Our budget for these two years succeeds in achieving savings while also maintaining high levels of investment in key service areas.”
He stressed the importance of the council’s Single Outcome Agreement with the Scottish Government, which focuses on increasing population, and thanked members of the public who had responded to consultations.
“We have listened to what they told us,” he said.
“Their views have reinforced the budget approach we are proposing for 2014/15 and 2015/16 – to preserve services where possible by seeking 1% savings across all areas of our work in each year, while also investing in our people and opportunities for growth.”
The reserve fund of £11.8m will be maintained ‘in order to establish a strategy for using it to maximum benefit for economic growth and other service areas’, while another £150,00 per year will be spent on maintaining the authority’s schools – although the impact of this amount is likely to be inited given the large number of schools.
The council’s statement today said the total revenue budget was approximately £245m, but 1% savings across council service areas equated to £1.8m
Council tax remains unchanged – band D costs £1,178 annually, excluding water and any other charges.