City development budget pressures

City development budget pressures Image

A NEW report which predicts a £3.5m overspend in a council service area and the short, medium and long term plans to deal with it is set to be discussed by councillors.

Members of the city development committee will be told that the department manages a number of council-wide budgets and it depends on income for a significant part of the money it spends.

Alan Ross committee convener said: “This report does not flinch from explaining why we are in the position we are in and importantly what we are going to do about it.

“There is a long term turnaround strategy because of the unique pressures faced by city development and there are more immediate measures to get to grips with the overspend.

“It is important to point out that there is corporate support for the proposals and action is being taken to ensure that Dundee City Council ends 2019/20 in a financial situation below or in line with the budget that was set.”

According to the report, which will be considered by the city development committee on Monday (October 28) while an extra £1.28m has been added to the budget this year, the main recurring financial pressures are in property, street lighting, staffing and planning and economic development.

Measures proposed to tackle the issues being faced in property include accelerating the current demolition programme and disposal and marketing of surplus property. Spending  on third parties has already been reduced and a collaborative approach to bringing down reactive maintenance costs is being worked on. A business case is being finalised for an improved Property Asset Management system which would further decrease expenditure.

A push to increase income from commercial properties is underway, along with the creation of a high-level Building Merger & Property Rationalisation Board, which will develop a strategy to optimise buildings’ use and decrease the property portfolio.

Other measures include a review of external consultants, capital investment that can deliver revenue savings including introduction of CCTV to reduce security costs, creation of a covered salt barn at Marchbanks to reduce salt wastage and refurbishment of Bell Street Car Multi Storey Park including enhanced CCTV to reduce security costs and improve income.

The LED street lighting replacement programme is delivering non-financial benefits, in particular a significant reduction in energy consumption. However due to changes in a number of assumptions that were included in the original business case, including variations in the deregulated electricity market, the level of anticipated savings has not been realised. The forecast deficit in the Street Lighting budget will be addressed through the 2020/2021 budget process.

Other measures including reviewing vacant posts, redeployment to assist in areas of higher workload and fee income maximisation are also proposed in the report.

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