Final cuts totalling more than £100,000 were made to Moray Council’s budget yesterday to balance the books.
The savings included reducing the annual subsidy to the Elgin-based Moray Leisure Centre by £60,000 due to an upturn in the facility’s fortunes generating more income.
Meanwhile, Moray Women’s Aid’s homelessness contract will be reduced by £32,000 from July, which will lead to the group withdrawing an overnight helpline and reducing staff support hours.
The charity has described the move as “upsetting” but has accepted it cannot be immune from tightening public sector budgets.
Yesterday, council leader Graham Leadbitter explained the move had been triggered by a shifting homelessness priority.
He said: “This means significant changes in services for both the council and accommodation providers like Moray Women’s Aid, with the focus switching to permanent housing rather than temporary accommodation.
“It will be important the council continues to work closely with external temporary accommodation providers like Women’s Aid to ensure this major policy transition is carried out in partnership and that we collectively continue to support vulnerable clients.”
Other savings included a reduction in staff hours to support councillors while SQA music tuition will now be charged to individual school budgets.
A review of mental health support arrangements, which is expected to save £75,000, was also agreed for 2021/22.
As well as the final £210 million revenue budget, which is the largest ever put together for Moray, a package of capital investment has also been agreed.
The spending includes £1 million on bridge maintenance as part of an expected need for £15.5 million over the next decade.
About £700,000 of works has been earmarked for local harbours, £200,000 has been set aside to advance a possible flood protection scheme for Lossiemouth’s Seatown, about £4 million has been allocated for a combination of road maintenance and safety and £3.4 million will go towards school repairs.
There is also £11.5 million to progress the new Lossiemouth High School and Linkwood Primary School projects and a further £500,000 to do works to begin initial investigations for a new primary school in the north of Elgin.