Community views are being sought on proposals to increase fees and charges for certain council services to help cover the cost of delivering them.
Many only affect businesses which require licenses for certain types of service, but others will directly affect services to members of the public.
In particular, there are proposals to increase the cost of burials in Aberdeenshire, which the council currently subsidises significantly. The proposed charges could see weekday interment charges increase by £171
The current fees fall well short of covering the full cost, but any rises could be phased in over two years to reduce the impact. The overall cost of burial grounds exceeds income by £585,000 per year, so an increase of around 25% is recommended to help reduce the deficit. There would still be a shortfall.
Some council services are essential and are provided free of charge, such as children’s education, waste collection and roads maintenance.
Statutory services, such as burials, have to be provided by the council, and it is expected the cost of providing these services should be covered by their fees.
Some services are discretionary and may be delivered if the council chooses to deliver them.
Fees can be set nationally, such as those for planning permission, and some are discretionary – which means they are set by the council.
A recent review of chargeable services delivered by the council’s Infrastructure Service shows some need to increase by more than inflation to cover the cost of delivering them. These include
- Burial Services
- Trade Waste Recycling Collections
- Event Waste and Recycling Collections
- Hire of Council Mini Buses
- Weights Hire Services
- Animal Licensing
- Dog Warden Services
- Food Hygiene Certificates
- HMO Licenses
- Skin Piercing and Tattooing License
- Food Hygiene Courses
- Health and Safety Training Courses
- Sports Grounds Safety Certificates
Fees which are proposed to increase only in line with inflation are not part of the consultation.
The council will directly contact customers who use business-only services to encourage them to respond and give their opinions. Information from the survey will be used by councillors to inform their decision on whether to approve the proposed increases to charges.
The council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, said
The main thrust of this consultation is to seek views on the principles behind proposed increases in our service charges.
Some may feel the council should continue to provide some services at a loss, perhaps to encourage a particular type of business for example, while others will feel the council should cover its costs for these services to free up money for other services.
Everyone will understand the cost of living continually increases and this is no different for council services – even if it is only by the rate of inflation.
Although burial fees can be an emotive issue, given it’s an essential service which most people need, the council currently subsidises these substantially and is simply seeking to cover the costs.
You can read the full report that was presented to the Infrastructure Services Committee on 5 October, below. The Aberdeenshire Council consultation can be completed online here until 1 December 2017.
Report presented to Infrastructure Services Committee 5 October 2017