Argyll and Bute Council’s budget for the next two financial years was agreed at a meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday.
The authority’s spending plans will also see council tax frozen for 2014-15, in line with Scottish Government policy, while savings of one per cent, or £1.8 million, will be made across all the council’s service areas in the next 12 months.
Councillors also backed plans to invest £50,000 in the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative every year for the next three years, to spend an additional £150,000 every year on maintaining existing school buildings and to spend £607,000 maintaining street lighting over the next two years and assessing future requirements.
Fees and charges for most council services will increase in line with inflation, though there will be no increase in the cost of school meals, meals on wheels, community alarms, Blue Badges or community based care services.
Council leader Cllr Dick Walsh said: “Our budget planning approach ensures that we deliver key services that work for people now, that we prepare for future financial challenge and that we invest for economic growth.
“We have a flat cash settlement (the same amount of government funding as last year) for 2014/15, and anticipate it for next year. We will therefore use these two years of relative financial stability to identify where we need to make changes to future service delivery and how we can make best use of the resources we have.”
Councillor Walsh also said the authority had “moved on” from the in-fighting between groups of councillors and between some councillors and senior officers which had bedevilled the authority since the last local elections in 2012, and for which the authority was heavily criticised by Audit Scotland last year.
“What has remained steadfast is our focus on delivering services that benefit our people and communities,” he continued.
“This was recognised by Audit Scotland, who identified that frontline services were not affected by the need for change, and it is reflected in the progress we have continued to make.
“Argyll and Bute Council is ready and committed to doing all that we as a council can do to support the future of Argyll and Bute. Everyone who is part of a community has a role to play in supporting the future of that community – the council, residents, voluntary and third sector groups, local media and trade unions.”