Minutes of Meeting of the Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board held in Committee Room 1, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, on Wednesday 6 January 2010 at 11.00 a.m.
Representing The Highland Council
Mrs H Carmichael
Mr L Fraser
Mr J McGillivray
Officials in attendance:
Mr D Gillespie, Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer
Mr A Bernard, Treasurer’s Office
Mrs M Grigor, Finance Manager
Miss A Macrae, Clerk’s Office
Mrs H Carmichael in the Chair
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr F D S Black, Mr P Cairns, Miss J Campbell, Mr J Gray, and Ms M Smith of the Highland Council and Mr K Murray, Mr M Macleod and Mr D Nicolson of the Western Isles Council.
2. Minutes of Last Meeting
There had been circulated and APPROVED the Minutes of the Board Meeting of 25 November 2010.
3. Revenue Budget Monitoring Statement 2009/10
There was circulated, for noting, Report No VAL-1-10 comprising a statement and commentary by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer on Revenue Expenditure and Income for the period to 30 November 2009. The report showed actual net expenditure of £1.617m, as against anticipated expenditure for the period of £1.726m, and an anticipated underspend of £0.69m. The main savings related to an underspend on staffing costs, principally following the retirement of the Assistant Assessor, and also due to a recent planned retirement, along with small savings on travel and subsistence and other staff costs.
The Board was also circulated with a briefing note on Financial Reporting Standard 17, ‘Retirement Benefits’. It was clarified that the Board along with all other public bodies in the UK had to comply with the Standard, which required that the full cost of employees’ retirement benefits be reflected in the Income and Expenditure Account and the Balance Sheet. This was a theoretical figure based on actuarial valuations carried out every three years. Currently the Board had a net pension liability of £2.104m, and it was reported that further actuarial valuations would consider the appropriate employers rate to meet the commitments of the scheme. Therefore the figure represented the hypothetical amount that the constituent authorities would be required to fund if all the pension liabilities crystallised as at 31 March 2009.
Following discussion the Board NOTED the report, and AGREED that the briefing note be circulated electronically to all Members of the Board.
4. Revenue Budget 2010/11
There was circulated Report No VAL-2-10 by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer comprising the draft estimates of expenditure and income for 2010/11 and a draft requisitions statement prepared jointly by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer and the Treasurer.
The Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer provided a summary of the main issues relating to the draft budget for 2010/11, advising that the total budget amounted to £2.704m, which represented an increase of 0.72% on the previous year.
During discussion a point was raised in relation to the opportunities to achieve savings on postages. The Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer reported that the Department received the maximum discount on outgoing mail from the Royal Mail. However the potential for reducing costs further within the existing post office structure would be explored.
Further points discussed related to the potential for electoral returns to be completed on the internet together with the associated pros and cons, it being reported that while the technology existed, an internet based system would could not presently deal with individual registration should this be introduced. The potential impact of the boundary review on the Board’s electoral activity was also considered, together with the additional costs that would accrue to the Board arising from a general election, noting that the Returning Officer bore the majority of the costs involved.
The Board APPROVED the draft revenue budget for 2010/11 and the requisitions to be levied on each of the Constituent Authorities, as detailed in the report.
5. Departmental Report
There was circulated Report No VAL-3-10 by the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer setting out the current position of the main activities of the Department to January 2010 in relation to electoral, rating, council tax and staffing activities.
The Board NOTED the report.
6. 2010 Meeting Dates
Following on from the previous meeting on 25 November 2010 where it was agreed to reschedule the April and August 2010 meeting dates, the following revised dates were proposed:-
- 21 April 2010
- 31 August 2010
The Chair requested that the August meeting be held in Stornoway, and suggested that further discussions be held at the next meeting as to whether the Board should meet in the Western Isles either annually or bi-annually.
The Board APPROVED the revised schedule of dates for the April and August meetings, on the basis that the meeting on 31 August be held in Stornoway.
The meeting ended at Noon.