Thursday coming is the day the council sets its budget for the coming financial year.
At the moment, the papers for this meeting indicate a budget surplus of £2.893m, assuming a 3% increase in council tax. We have no idea as yet if the administration intend to produce a budget on the day or if the papers already published are the final version. The council was heavily criticised by Audit Scotland for the manner in which the much loved council leader produced last year’s budget (on the day) which left no time for proper scrutiny.
Anyway, myself and Cllrs Dance and Marshall have produced some amendments to the papers that have been published and, while strategic finance staff have still to check these over, it seems timely to publicise these now. They could change, though, depending on what strategic finance say. We shared our thoughts in advance with the SNP Group and distributed what you see below to the SNP and Argyll First groups today.
Our key proposal is to use 100% of the 3% increase in council tax to increase the adult care budget held by the Integrated Joint Board for Health & Social Care. They are under real budgetary pressure and we feel this is the best way we can use the council tax increase, ie to help pay for the care of the elderly people of Argyll & Bute.
Here are our proposals, as they currently stand, and apologies for the size of the text:
The above proposals will cost an additional £3.154m but save an extra £1.209m. The next position is shown below and, we believe, offers a balanced budget with a much reduced surplus. It puts more money into care of the elderly and avoids some of the education cuts that we think will work against improving attainment.
Let’s see if other councillors can support these proposals.