Rutland County Council is looking to save £1.5m

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Rutland County Council is looking at making savings of £1.5m next year as it battles to balance the books for 
the future.

The cabinet recommended the budget for approval , at a meeting on Tuesday. It would see the council spend just over £33m in 2013/14.

The council is expected to freeze tax rates for the second year running in exchange for a £208,000 Government grant, despite the Government cutting the county’s funding by 2.1 per cent.

Deputy leader Terry King (Con) outlined the proposed budget which still has to be approved by the full council.

He said: “This is a long-term view that we need to take, not take on a view year by year.

“To achieve a freeze on council tax we are going to need some pretty tough decisions in terms of the savings that are going to be possible both in the coming year and in future years.

“We are committing ourselves to some pretty large cuts in the budget.”

The proposed budget has more than 70 potential savings. They include saving £90,000 through the introduction of pool cars for council staff; reducing road repairs to save £57,800; reviewing its IT services to save £80,000 and reforming adult social care to save £65,000.

The council is also proposing to save nearly £40,000 by reviewing its street cleaning operation and close the Live@ programme, which brought live music and entertainment to Rutland County Museum. Stopping the programme would save £20,000.

Coun King said this decision had been taken because other venues in Oakham had started providing live music and the service was not performing as well as when it was first set up.

The proposed budget leaves the council with £7m in reserves.

Coun King said while it seemed large, they were needed to protect core services over the coming years.

He added: “Despite additional cuts this council may well within a matter of three years find itself in a situation where it will be losing £1m a year.”

Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said long-term planning was the right decision.

He added: “When the council managed itself by one-year accounts we were seeing tax increases of eight per cent. There were knee-jerk reactions.

“Even to achieve this position we are having to make £1.5m of savings.

“The key thing is we have the resources to manage this and minimise the impact of these pressures over time, and to do it in a measured way so that we can focus on what the community needs.

“This is a difficult budget. The recession is going to go on. There is still pain to be had across the whole public sector.”

After a short discussion cabinet members voted to recommend the full council approve the budget and financial plan at a special meeting on February 18.

The budget takes into account several risk factors, including the potential for a drop in business rates due to a large business closing.

It also accounts for income from the likely sale of assets, including Ashwell Depot and The Parks School site which is empty after it moved into Oakham CE Primary School.