Councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford have repeatedly voiced their frustration about the lack of public consultation on Aberdeenshire Council’s budget by the council leadership.
The two councillors are determined that this year will be different, so they have initiated consultation themselves.
“At last, this year, residents will be able to express a view on the future budget direction for Aberdeenshire Council,” said Cllr Johnston, leader of the Democratic Independent and Green councillor group.
“The council is facing very difficult choices over the next several years. It’s essential everyone has an opportunity to express views on what the council should do, before decisions are taken.”
Green councillor Martin Ford said: “Budget projections indicate that significant savings will be required over the next four years, on a scale that means services are bound to be affected. So it is particularly important this year for councillors to hear residents’ views before deciding future budget strategy.
“How much income the Council gets, made up from Government grant, plus business rates and from the Council Tax – determines what the Council can spend on providing services.
“The SNP national policy of keeping the Council Tax frozen, rather than decided locally, means, in effect, that the Scottish Government is now deciding the Council’s total net expenditure for it. What local control there was, through the Council setting the Council Tax each year, has been blocked. And in real terms, taking inflation into account, Aberdeenshire Council’s budget is being cut.”
Cllr Johnston added: “Other councillor groups on Aberdeenshire Council show no signs of carrying out their own budget consultations. However, we will make the results of our consultation available to all groups on the Council.”
The Aberdeenshire Council budget consultation launched by the Democratic Independent and Green councillors covers a wide range of possible budget choices available to the Council. The inclusion of a question should not be taken as expressing a view, just that residents’ views are sought on the issue.
Aberdeenshire Council will set its budget for the next financial year, on February 12. The budget consultation will close on January 23, to allow time for responses to be analysed.