UP to 1,000 jobs are at risk with Highland Council’s plans to make £64 million savings in the next four years.
But council leaders claim the budget proposals being taken forward by the administration aim to protect hundreds of council jobs from being cut.
The full package of proposals put to the public during the budget consultation estimated a loss of 800-1,000 posts as the council adjusts to the £64 million challenge in its budget over the next four years.
Their proposals include reducing teacher number, cutting road gritting and raising the cost of burials and car parking.
The administration has selected a package of proposals which it claims is focused on protecting jobs through restructuring and increasing efficiency using better technology.
Budget leader Maxine Smith said: “The scale of savings we need to achieve is immense.
“However, we are determined to deliver vital services whilst retaining vital jobs. The proposals we are presenting on Thursday will of course have some impact, but we have managed to do this whilst protecting hundreds of jobs.”
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Council leader Drew Hendry said: “We have listened very carefully to what people are saying and, as a result of our most comprehensive consultation, have taken these views on board, as well as considering the overall impact on the economy of the Highlands, prior to making any decisions.
“Whilst we have a legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget over the coming years we have done that with the feedback from the public and we are grateful for their help in formulating proposals which seek to protect jobs and maintain quality services.”
However, slashing senior councillors’ pay and axing free meals for elected members are being proposed in an alternative Highland Council budget.
The opposition Independent Group has revealed their own savings.
It includes a proposal to reduce the salary of councillors who earn more than the basic pay, such as committee chairman – by 4 per cent next year and 1 per cent the following years.
They also suggest reducing the catering budget for councillors lunches and tea by £20,000 – compared to the £5,000 proposed by the Administration.
The opposition group also propose cuts to some green projects.
The council meets on Thursday to debate the budget proposals.
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