Services run by the development committee are on track for a 10 per cent underspend if first-quarter savings made to the revenue budget continue for the rest of the financial year.
The committee heard on Monday that the projected out-turn for services within its remit stood at a £554,000 underspend, while the forecast for the capital budget is to break even.
This means the development department is meeting the “corporate priority” to “live within its means” and help the council achieve financial sustainability over the next five years. The savings had come mostly from economic development with underspends in the grants scheme and income “above budget” for the Shetland Telecom scheme, with the fibre optic project breaking even.
Chairman Alastair Cooper said that things ought to improve. “We should welcome enjoying the fruits of the buoyant local economy. We cannot expect that to roll on forever as changes happen with Total and Petrofac and so on,” he added.
According to figures drawn up by the finance department, economic development – the biggest heading with a £3.52 million budget – accounts for all but £10,000 of directorate savings with a 15.42 per cent underspend. Of that, £356,000 will be saved from delayed European grant schemes which require match funding. Shetland Telecom is expected to generate additional income of £140,000 from the wholesale of broadband capacity.
The European grant schemes were in a “lay year” according to development head of service Douglas Irvine, but would kick-in next year for the next six-years.
The projected saving from the “director of development” – the administrative core of the department – is only £6,000, or 0.73 per cent from its £822,000 budget, while the planning function of development would save only £4,000, or 0.33 per cent from its £1,202,000 budget.