£1m black hole in St Albans budget

PUBLISHED: 13:11 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

A £1 MILLION-plus shortfall in St Albans District Council s budget has arisen as a result of the economic downturn. Charges from planning applications, revised land search charges and rented accommodation have all fallen off in a relatively short space of

A £1 MILLION-plus shortfall in St Albans District Council's budget has arisen as a result of the economic downturn.

Charges from planning applications, revised land search charges and rented accommodation have all fallen off in a relatively short space of time.

Much of the shortfall will be made up by freezing some council vacancies, stopping the employment of most temporary and contract staff and ending Saturday opening at the council.

Resources portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Oxley, said: "Major progress has been made on the remaining shortfall of £450,000 which is well covered by reserves but we will be working to address the remaining figure."

He stressed that despite the small increase the council will receive in its Government grant next year, it was still confident it could keep the increase in its share of the council tax below the rate of inflation in 2009/10.

He said the council would be looking at several areas to cover the shortfall including increasing fees and charges, cutting discounted services and reducing staff costs.

The council would also be expanding its electronic data management system which would reduce the requirement for space in the civic centre and facilitate home working.

Cllr Oxley added: "Inevitably some charges will have to rise above inflation and where services are not well used, consideration will have to be given to reducing those services."

He added: "All in all we are passing through a very challenging time but we remain focussed on keeping council tax down and helping businesses.

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