Fife Council will set its budget for 2018-19 today (Thursday).
There will be cuts and there will be job losses – but there is also a commitment by the two ruling parties to protect vital council services while juggling resources to absorb a £12.8m cut in funding.
The first ever budget from the Labour-SNP joint administration is one both have signed up to, despite their own differing views on how much they get from the Scottish Government.
And the leaders - Councillors David Alexander (SNP) and David Ross (Labour) are confident it can work.
Councillor Alexander believes if the council gets through the coming financial year then 2019-20 could present them with the lowest budget gap in a decade, and an easing of the endless cuts.
“We’re all having to get better at what we do as demand for our services increases,” he said. “And we’re getting there.
“As soon as the budget is set this week we have to make sure it delivers.
“With 53 of 75 councillors in the joint administration, officers will be under more scrutiny than ever as we ask them to work with decreased budgets
“But we are looking to raise revenue as well as find savings, and there are positives.”
Councillor Ross welcomed agreement to continue funding projects set up by the previous administration, the cash earmarked to support employability initiatives, and tackling the complex funding of the joint board which, together with NHSFife, runs health and social care.
“Going forward, we are still under significant financial pressure.
“Unless there is a change of attitude, we will still be under financial pressure.
“We do have differing views on the settlement from the Scottish Go vernment, but in terms of our plans for Fife there is a lot of commonality.
“We want quality services across Fife and we want to look after our most vulnerable folk.”
The headlines will focus on proposals for a three per cent Council tax rise, and the loss of up to 190 full-time equivalent posts.
The job cuts will come through retirement and voluntary severance.
Education, which soaks up half the local authority budget, will face some savings, but only 40 per cent of what could have been taken, as councillors seek to minimise the impact on our classrooms.
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