TORBAY faces a further £20million cut in its budget and some 'extraordinarily difficult' decisions.
The authority has estimated that it is likely to have to save a further £10 million per year over the next two years due to continuing Government cutbacks.
This year it faced axing between 75 and 100 posts and considered raising council tax by two per cent as it grappled with a £10million cut. Some residents have been up in arms at the impact on beach services, dog bins and public toilets.
If the additional £20million cutback is confirmed, it will reduce the council's net revenue budget to some £106 million — a reduction of approximately 28 per cent over four years.
In his first days as Torbay Council's new top officer, Steve Parrock and Mayor Gordon Oliver have launched a root and branch review of council's services. In his first newsletter to council staff Mr Parrock referred to the budget challenges and invited staff to help identify efficiencies to help minimise the future impact.
Mr Parrock, the new director of finance and operations, said he welcomed the mayor's decision to consider a two year budget setting process and said the current aim was to identify budget options which recognise the forecast cuts and the need to deliver local priorities.
He said the significant funding reduction meant the council not only had to re-think the way it runs services, but it had to also consider which services it could afford to continue to run directly. The council may work even more closely with other organisations or authorities, such as the voluntary sector, private and public sectors and the NHS, to provide some of its services and also benefit from the larger economies of scale and/or lower operating costs.
Mr Parrock said he and the mayor wanted to see even more of the council's retained budget spent within the Bay supporting the local economy and jobs.
He warned: "Coastal resorts like Torbay are likely to be hit disproportionately hard because of their heavy reliance on the public sector for jobs and their weaker economies generally. Unfortunately, we have areas of high deprivation and low wages and a very high demand for adults and children's services which are statutory services and have to be provided by the council.
"As a major tourist destination we also have relatively high maintenance costs.
"But it's not all doom and gloom. We live in a beautiful part of the world and our local prospects are better than they have been for many years with some £400million inward investment planned over the next two years and thousands of new jobs created.
"Our immediate priority is to establish a new budget setting a process that is fair and equitable and to ensure that the consultation process is thorough and informed.
"We will have to do some things less and some things not at all. It is important that the reasons for this are understood by our residents and visitors."
He said consultation would start once the options emerge over the coming months.
"It is important that we all understand that the mayor and council have a legal obligation to set a sustainable budget which reflects the funding available and protects the most vulnerable.
"Elected members will, of course, wish to keep any increases in local taxes and charges to an absolute minimum, while recognising that this political objective has to be balanced with the provision of essential and statutory services.
"Members will be confronted with some extraordinary difficult decisions."