West Oxfordshire District Council is considering whether to dip into cash reserves to fund 20 staff posts in a bid to save money in the long term.
The council has listed an equivalent of 20 full-time jobs, costing more than £676,000 in salaries, that it would like to push forward in the next financial year.
Current budget projections predict the council will bring in around £345,000 more than it spends in the financial year beginning in April 2023, but that is without considering these posts, which “would be permanent additional strains on the budget”, according to the council’s report.
Some of them are existing roles that were temporarily funded by government grants during the COVID-19 pandemic, money that is no longer available to the authority, while others have been put forward to deliver a net benefit in the long term.
Three of the posts have already been approved – the climate change manager and a post covering cyber security with salaries just north of £50,000 per year and a market towns officer to help with the regeneration of high streets at just shy of £36,000 per year.
If approved, the biggest spend would be on a new head of commercial at £95,100 per year “to manage the strategic management of waste and leisure”.
The council’s summary reads: “If we can’t turn leisure around, we risk reputational damage, the loss of services and circa £1.5 million income per year.
“The waste service will have multiple challenges over the next few years with the implementation of the revised service design to unlock financial savings.
“This post is aimed at turning around the leisure service on a strategic level, and the amount of income at stake far outweighs the cost.”
An asset management post at £63,000 per year “should generate at least equivalent savings”, with such duties currently conducted by external consultants.
Other areas earmarked for investment include shared posts in human resources and a contribution to a county-wide waste partnerships manager, while a new receptionist and executive assistant based at the council’s offices in Woodgreen, Witney, could be paid for in part by renting out chambers and committee rooms.
Councillor Dan Levy (Lib Dem, Eynsham & Cassington), the district’s cabinet member for finance, said: “These requests are being vigorously tested to ensure they are only for things that are crucial and cost effective.
“They will, in budgetary terms, push slightly into our reserves, but those reserves will remain extremely healthy, and I am confident we will see increased income and decreased expenditure on external consultants, which will, in practice, restore the position.
“We will detail these additional posts in due course as part of the budget approval process.
“We are committed to improving services, addressing climate change and supporting residents. We will do that best when we are financially efficient.”