Agenda item

Budget Setting (Agenda item 8)

Report of the Executive Member for the Governance and Corporate Development Portfolio (William Smith).

Minutes:

The Head of Finance presented the Budget Setting report for consultation.

 

The report outlined the 2010/11 revenue and capital estimates for the General Fund and the proposals for the setting of discretionary fees and charges.

 

The Local Government Act 2003 had introduced a requirement that the Chief Financial Officer reports on the robustness of the budget.  The estimates had been prepared in a prudent manner; however, it had been recognised that there were a number of elements outside of the Council’s control and these had been identified in Section 17 of the report and would be mitigated through the budget monitoring and risk management processes of the Council.

 

The budget consultation process for 2010/11 would comprise of a number of elements.  Firstly, the Council had undertaken a survey with the Citizens Panel.  Questions had been asked about the level of council tax that the Council should charge next year, and ways to fund other improvements to services.  Secondly, a Business Rate Payers consultation event had been scheduled which would hopefully produce a useful insight from key consultees.  The budget proposals would also be taken through to the Audit Committee to allow challenge from both a financial and governance view point. Finally, by bringing these proposals forward, with a consultation period up until 11th January 2010, it would allow for a lengthy period of consultation for any interested parties who might wish to challenge and review the Council’s income and expenditure plans.  The output would be to submit a supported budget proposal to Cabinet in January 2010 which was affordable, sustainable and aligned to the priorities of the Council.

 

The main areas of interest were highlighted:

 

  • No rise in Council Tax
  • No rise in budget requirement
  • Salary savings
  • Efficiencies
  • Fees and charges remained largely unchanged
  • No expected rise in Government grant.

 

The draft proposals would lead to an indicative 0% increase in Council Tax if adopted

 

The Chairman drew attention to the Executive summary of the report.  He felt that the most worthy item to note was the aspiration of the Council to keep the council tax levels at 0% until 2012.  He stated that Breckland Council would aspire to maintain high quality services whilst delivering efficiencies in these times of financial uncertainty without any expected increase in Government grant.

 

The Leader of the Opposition had sent in his comments and observations by email for the Chairman to announce.  He wished for the Cabinet to note that a Task & Finish Group had recently been set up by the Overview & Scrutiny Commission to look at all forms of rate relief.  The organisations he particularly referred to were the Dereham Band and the Boxing Club.  He also referred to the proposed funding towards Dereham Memorial Hall. 

 

The Chairman reminded Members that this budget report was for consultation only and that the rental charge for the Dereham Band and the Boxing Club would be decided on their own merits.  As far as the Memorial Hall was concerned, Members were also reminded that this project formed part of a growth bid and even though the Cabinet had supported the feasibility study no commitment had been given in the way of funding.  He pointed out that this matter would be discussed at a future Cabinet meeting.

 

The Executive Member for the Economic Health & Housing Portfolio said that he would resist going back to charging a peppercorn rent for the Boxing Club.

 

Referring to the Council Tax leaflet that had caused the Council problems last year, the Chairman asked that an Officer be given total responsibility for the new publication. He also highlighted the need to inform Dereham, Thetford, Watton and Bawdeswell about the special expense charge that would be applied to its Council Tax for the maintenance of lighting on public footpaths.

 

The Chairman congratulated the Officers and Members for producing such a balanced budget in such difficult circumstances. 

 

Options

 

No alternative options were presented; however, the Cabinet was requested to consider amendments to the budget proposals during the period of consultation.  It was usual for there to be significant change to a draft budget before it was eventually finalised.  The Cabinet was encouraged to focus at a strategic level as to the extent it wished to maintain existing levels of service, how services were priorities, to what extent it was prudent to allocate reserves and to seek assurance as to how any budgetary shortfalls might be addressed.

 

Reason

 

To comply with the budgetary and policy framework.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)           the revenue estimates for 2010/11 and outline position through to 2014/15 be endorsed for consultation;

 

2)           the capital estimates and associated funding for 2010/11 and outline position through to 2014/15 be endorsed for consultation;

 

3)           the fees and charges shown at appendix 4 of the report, for adoption on 1st April 2010, be endorsed for consultation;

 

4)           the 2010/11 revenue growth bids be endorsed for consultation; and

 

5)           the Cabinet consults on the Council Tax for a Band D property in 2010/11 at £64.05

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