Aberdeenshire Council’s SNP-led administration is facing a difficult balancing act to make £50million of budget cuts in line with the wishes of local taxpayers.
The north-east authority is facing a sizeable funding blackhole over the next five years and needs to slash more than £17million from next year’s spending alone.
In an effort to identify spending priorities, the council leadership has opened up the budget process to public consultation and has been inundated with responses.
The official consultation comes to a close tonight, so residents only have hours left to fill in the online form.
Last night council co-leader Richard Thomson said: “We’ve been absolutely delighted with the level of consultation response so far but we’d still encourage as many people to take part as are able to do so.
“We’re working through the finer details of the budget announcement with our officers but it’s pretty clear we’re going to have to make some significant savings over not just this year but future years as well.
“We want to engage with the public about some of the choices we need to make about what we can continue to provide, what services we provide in a different way, and perhaps what we stop providing as a council.”
The Ellon and District councillor added that the views of the public are “crucial” to the budget decisions facing the administration.
Mr Thomson and his fellow co-leader, councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes, sparked a furious debate last month when they proposed selling off the council’s Woodhill House civic HQ.
The leaders said their willingness to radically overhaul the council’s property portfolio showed the size of the budget challenges facing the administration.
Last night a spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council added: “Over 1,000 people have so far taken part in our budget engagement survey and there is still time to for more people to have their say.
“Their views will help to inform the decisions made by Aberdeenshire councillors when they meet to set a balanced budget in February, ensuring that the council continues to deliver a range of valued local services to communities.”
Aberdeenshire residents can take part in the budget consultation by visiting the local authority’s website.
The survey closes tonight.