Elected Members have recommended that Orkney Islands Council’s budget for the year ahead should take account of the uncertain times the country faces.
The Policy and Resources Committee agreed that £83.9 million should be spent on running Council services in 2019-2020.
A savings target of £350,000 for the next financial year was agreed. This is considerably less than the average savings of £1.6 million made each year by the Council between 2011 and 2019. The Committee heard that the target for 2019-2020 can be achieved without the need to reduce the Council’s workforce.
OIC Leader James Stockan said: “We face unique and difficult circumstances in setting a budget for the year ahead and our deliberations today and over the past six months reflect this.
“Uncertainty surrounds the Brexit process, but it seems certain there will be an impact on our community whatever the outcome. On top of that, uncertainty remains over how much support we will receive from the Scottish Government to run our inter-island ferries – as we continue to argue for fair funding covering the full costs of this lifeline service.
“Our aim is to set a one-off budget for uncertain times and avoid making the year ahead even more challenging for the Council and the community we serve. Savings are needed, but we have sought to minimise cuts to services by increasing our income – by introducing new charges for example.
“We will also need to draw down £6.1 million from the Council’s reserves. This is considerably higher than the usual contribution and would be unsustainable if it was to continue year after year.
“Through our Community Conversations we know that protecting services by increasing or bringing in new charges is a measure the public supports. There is public recognition too of the need to preserve the Council’s reserves, for the good of our community now and in the longer term – and for Council investment in measures that support and strengthen Orkney’s economy.
“Our intention in setting this one-off budget is to lessen the impact there might have been on the community, the organisation and our staff. But unless there’s a just outcome and we receive full and fair ferries funding, we may need to consider exceptional measures both in setting our budget and over the year ahead.”
Councillors also recommended that:
The Committee’s recommendation that Council Tax bills in Orkney should increase by 4.79% from April 1 would bring in an additional £415,800 in revenue for OIC. An increase in the number of Band D properties will result in an additional income of £142,200, with a surcharge on empty properties expected to raise £67,700 over the year ahead.
If agreed when the Committee’s recommendations go to a meeting of the Full Council, the following Council Tax charges would apply in Orkney for the year ahead:
|Band||Council Tax 2019 to 2020||Council Tax 2018 to 2019|
Households with only one adult living in the property will continue to receive a discount of 25% on the charges detailed above.