Cabinet unveils "bold, brave and creative" budget
"Bold, brave and creative" proposals unveiled by Mansfield District Council's Cabinet will mean the authority can deliver a balanced budget for 2011/12 with little effect on frontline services, a Council Tax freeze and without virtually any compulsory redundancies.
The Cabinet outlined its plans at a meeting on 13 January and will now seek Full Council approval for the proposals on 26 January.
A 13.8% reduction in Government grants, together with falling income from investments, leisure centres, car parks and planning fees left the authority facing a £3million hole in its budgets for the forthcoming financial year.
It looked as if the budget shortfall, one of the largest the Council has ever had to contend with, would mean the closure of Meden Sports Centre, a charge for garden waste (brown bin) collections and cuts to many other frontline services.
However a raft of proposed efficiencies across the authority has been drawn up which not only hits the savings target, but also has minimal impact on services to the public and delivers a Council Tax freeze.
The proposals mean that Meden Sports Centre will stay open until late Summer at least and will be included in a market testing exercise being carried out for the future management of all leisure facilities currently run by the Council.
No charges for garden waste collections will be introduced during 2011/12 either, but public consultation will begin on charging for the service in the future and expanding it to cover the whole district (it currently serves around 80% of homes).
Amongst more than 60 money-saving and income generating proposals which are set to be introduced are:
- Reducing energy usage to save £150,000
- Signing up to a renegotiated energy contract, saving £365,000
- Opening two new modern toilet facilities with a 20p entrance fee, generating £109,000
- Reducing the overtime budget by £180,000
- Sharing Legal and Regeneration services with Ashfield District Council, saving £95,000
- Reducing the training budget for employees by £50,000
- Cutting the cost of back office functions by £829,000
- A restructure of Senior Management, saving £75,000
From 1 April the Council will also be revamping the way it charges for car parking, with some prices increasing, some being frozen and some reducing. New prices will encourage shoppers to stay longer in the town centre and allow them to park in more than one car park on the same ticket.
The changes to car park charging will generate an estimated £214,000 for the Council which will go towards protecting services.
Executive Mayor Tony Egginton, who chairs the Council's Cabinet said: "We have had to work hard to make the books balance whilst limiting the impact of the savings we have had to make on the public, local businesses and our employees.
"Although closing Meden Sports Centre was reluctantly part of our initial proposals, I was determined that if there was any way possible we could save it, then we should. I am delighted we have been able to achieve that and now, rightfully it will be included in the market testing of all our leisure facilities.
"There has been a lot of doom and gloom about public sector cuts in the Mansfield district and the likelihood of substantial job losses badly affecting the local economy. But by producing this bold, brave and creative budget we've managed to protect frontline services, protect jobs and freeze Council Tax."
View the minutes from the Cabinet meeting (13/1/11) to see the full budget proposals by following the link under External Links to Meeting Dates, Agendas and Minutes.