1. The Town Council has approved the recruitment of an additional member of staff, however, the job description, justification etc. had yet to be completed and the number of hours/week, hourly rate etc. had not been decided. The Staffing Sub-Committee (a sub-cttee of Full Council) had proposed a salary budget of £20,000 which was approved at Full Council.
2. The Finance Committee met later to set the budget for the next year. Whilst the recruitment and a financial "cost" (a very vague estimate) had been authorised by Full Council, within the Finance Committee there was considerable scepticism that the role would be filled: a similar recruitment had been tried within the past few months but because of the ill-defined nature of the job spec there were no applications; there was a strong belief that this will happen again.
3. Since the Finance Committee are setting a budget of what they believe to be a reasonable expectation of costs, they decided to produce a budget which excludes this salary cost, whilst noting that if, in what they considered to be the unlikely event, the Council did manage to recruit someone part of the cost could be taken from the underspend of budgeted income vs. expenditure whilst the remainder could, for this year only, be taken from reserves. And, should someone be recruited then in the following financial year the cost would be a formal line item in the budget since it was a known cost.
4. This was then recommended to Full Council for acceptance.
One Councillor said that setting a budget which excluded a cost that had been authorised at Full Council was "illegal", despite the fact that Full Council would in effect be voting on whether to approve this change.
So my question is.... would that budget have been illegal if it had removed an authorised expense believing that it was unlikely to occur, whilst providing a costing solution which included part funding from Reserves should the event actually take place.
Sorry if that's convoluted !!!!!