Council’s £20m surplus

The statement of accounts for 2011/12 will be presented to councillors when the full Aberdeenshire Council meets on Thursday this week

The unaudited accounts are the assessment of the council’s financial position for the year 2011/12 which councillors are asked to consider before being passed to Audit Scotland and the council’s external auditors for inspection.

The accounts show that the council has generated a surplus of just over £20 million in 2011/12.

During the year, the council was budgeted to spend £541 million. Actual expenditure was £19.6 million lower than expected. The council also generated £0.59 million more income than expected, bringing the total underspend to £20 million.

There are a number of reasons for the underspend which include the management of vacant posts, reductions in the number of teaching staff on conserved salaries and the non-filling of some vacancies and changes to terms and conditions of service for supply teachers, a reduction in the number of placements in residential care and increased income for planning application fees, the rental of industrial and commercial properties and the sale of recyclates, reduced levels of waste and a reduction in the costs associated with waste disposal.

There were also some overspends, particularly in essential maintenance of council buildings, a shortfall in the delivery of procurement savings and an increase in the provision for bad debts.

The report from the Head of Finance asks councillors to use the savings in three ways; to top up reserves (£1.5m), to enable services to complete projects started last year (£6m) and to invest in key priority areas (£13m).

The council’s reserves, which can be used for emergencies or unexpected tasks through the year, are in a healthy position, particularly given the mild winter in 2011/12. Although there is no maximum balance required, it is considered that most of the Funds are at a level sufficient to meet the needs of the Council in the medium term. The report suggests that £1.5 million should be transferred into the Building Repairs and Maintenance Fund to increase the programme of work in making council buildings fit for purpose.

Under the end of year flexibility scheme, councillors will also be asked to allow services to carry forward up to £6 million to complete projects started in 2011/12.

The remaining money has been set aside for councillors to consider a set of proposals for key areas of development for the council.