THE independent watchdog of the city council finances, the Audit Commission, has given the thumbs up to the Chester council's statement of accounts for 2007/08.
This follows a turnaround of the forecast overspend in 2007/08 into a budget saving of £470,000.Š
The Audit Commission conferred an unqualified opinion and stated that the council continues to demonstrate value for money by providing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery to local council tax payers.
The District Auditor made special mention of the steps that the council has taken to consult residents over the development of the new waste contract and budget priorities, enabling services to meet more closely the needs of local communities.Š
A budget update report to the council’s executive this month reveals that the global financial crisis is having an impact on the city council's income, particularly from car parking, park & ride, land charges and development control. Š
An estimated shortfall on finance of £1.1 million has led to a root and branch review of all income and expenditure.ŠThis has produced a package of measures to bring the budget back on target by the end of the financial year in March 2009.
As a precautionary measure the council will only be filling vacant posts if it is essential to protect front-line services; and will be avoiding unnecessary spending where possible.
Executive member for resources, Cllr Adrian Walmsley said: “The city council's finances are in safe hands. We have brought in the successful Free after Three car parking policy and we are not removing the concessionary fare scheme at the park & ride sites.Š
“In addition we have re-balanced the budget shortfall by making equivalent savings.Š If there are tough decisions to take in the future we will take them.”