District council considers budget cuts in bid to save £362,000
A RANGE of budget cuts are being considered by North Dorset District Council in its bid to make savings in 2013/14 of around £362,000 required by the financial strategy which was approved in October.
Councillors and other stakeholders at a budget workshop in December considered and prioritised a number of options which could save around £237k.
A report on the outcome will be considered at a joint meeting of the policy and service review committees on Wednesday for further comment which will be reported to Cabinet prior to the setting of the final budget.
Services which scored highly at the workshop in terms of corporate objectives included the contribution to Blandford Leisure Centre, the £11.2k for Artsreach, the £5k for publicity of council activities in the Blackmore Vale Magazine, and £4k for treatment to control the Blandford Fly, to which the council's Cabinet agreed last month to give extra funding for one year only.
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There was slightly less support for the £20k spent on street cleansing by the Dorset Waste Partnership, up to £136k support in the form of grants funding to other organisations, and the £16k provision of pre-9.30am concessionary fares, which were the subject of a consultation last month with community partners.
Low scoring, and therefore likely to be put into effect, were the suggestion of a £2k saving by reducing to a two monthly cycle of council meetings, ceasing or reducing the payment of corporate membership fees attracting professional support, passing on credit card charges to customers (£5k), and reducing members' training (up to £11k).
Some proposals have already been put into effect, and could reduce the budget by a total of £449k. They include potential increased income from car parks, from charges for pre-application planning advice, reductions in the cost of photocopying, additional income from the Longmead site in Shaftesbury, upgrading the phone system, reducing external audit fees, and a reduction of one per cent in the allowance made for a potential increase in staff salaries, together with reducing the senior management team by one in February 2014, reducing consultants fees, HQ running costs, legal and HR services, all of which are for sums yet to be confirmed.
Other potential budget reduction options recommended for consideration to reduce costs or increase income include:
Further restructuring of the workforce and its working environment
Sharing and or commissioning more management, specialist resources and services
Sale of services to other organisations and councils
Reducing the number of members and asking them to pay towards their tea and coffee
Offering land for use as solar farms, finding other uses for district car parks, reviewing the remaining discretionary services, and bringing forward development in Gillingham
Asking the voluntary sector and town and parish councils to deliver more services.