COUNCIL TAX will rise by three per cent this year, after the policy was voted through at today's budget meeting.

Elected members have agreed to a raft of cuts as part of the budget-setting process.

Clackmannanshire Council says the budget "seeks to protect priority services, while improving the financial sustainability of the council".

At today's Special Council Meeting, councillors approved the revenue budget of £118.796million to spend on services in 2018-2019.

A capital budget programme of £54.972m was also agreed for the five year period until 2023, with over 70 projects in the plan including the creation of the new Tullibody South Campus, funding for improvements to schools, investment in roads and footpaths and regeneration in communities. 

Savings of £7.376m have been approved to deal with the spending gap.

The SNP group and independent Councillor Chris Dixon voted for the paper, with the Conservative and Labour groups abstaining.

Here are some of the cuts and savings agreed today:

  • Changes to staff terms and conditions are expected to save around £200,000 this financial year and a further £215,000 in 2019/20.
  • A “revision of class configurations” in primary schools will save more than £500,000 in two years.
  • Increase breakfast club charges to £1.20 a day will recover £18,630 for the council over two years.
  • A 10 per cent reduction in learning assistants, down from an officer-proposed 20 per cent, will save £218,810 in the first year. This will affect 15 positions and will be achieved by not filling vacant posts.
  • Developing more local, community-based alternatives for residential schools is expected to save just over £1million in three years. This would impact on around nine placements with the savings realised after the service starts being provided locally.
  • Funding for Sauchie Active8, Coalsnaughton Café Society and Clackmannanshire Healthier Lives will continue for six months to allow for a transitional period. During this time, the council outlined that it would support the organisations in becoming self-sustaining.
  • All public toilets will be closed for a £73,000 saving.
  • The council has decided to pursue Decriminalised Parking Enforcement powers under what it billed a reduction in parking subsidies. In officer's proposals ahead of the budget this was tabled for Alloa, but during today's meeting it was made clear the council could pursue fines for parking offences across the county. Receiving the powers will require consultation with police and Transport Scotland – this could take a year or more. If approved, a business case could then be developed for “town centre traffic management” and it is estimated £400,000 could be generated in 2020/21.
  • Management efficiencies, which include the release of a number of posts and the re-alignment of a range of budgets, will come to more than £1.6million.
  • Restructuring the management is expected to save £765,000 while the redesign of services is estimated to save £870,000 in the first year.
  • Music tuition will not stop. However, non-SQA students will see an increase in charges to £17.45 a lesson – or £524 per year. SQA students should be unaffected and there will be concessionary rates for those eligible.
  • The civic centres in Tullibody and Dollar, as well as the Cochrane Hall in Alva will be cut. The buildings will be made available for a Community Asset Transfer. The council hopes to achieve this by September this year and is already in talks with a number of local organisations who could take them on.
  • Community Access Points (CAPs) will also be cut. Alva CAP is to relocate to the primary school, according to budget papers. The facilities in Clackmannan, Dollar, Menstrie (Dumyat Centre) will be available for Community Asset Transfer. Sauchie CAP is to relocate into Sauchie Hall.
  • Stopping “the kerbside box collection”, while continuing the uplift of food waste on a weekly basis using purpose built vehicles will save £159,000 next year.

Some of the savings relate to organisational redesign and associated management restructure within the council, including a 40 per cent reduction in management posts.

Staffing reductions will be made through voluntary means.

It was also agreed that Clackmannanshire’s Council Tax is to rise by the maximum of three per cent, with the new Band D rate set at £1,217.91.

Councillors also agreed a net resource transfer for adult social care of £16.041m to the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership.

Last month, the council approved a five year business plan for the housing service, including a two per cent increase in rent levels for council houses.