Aberdeenshire residents are being invited to take a hands-on approach to outlining their main priorities for council budgets.
An online budget simulator has been developed to allow users to virtually raise or lower budgets across a range of Aberdeenshire Council services – and see what impacts their decisions could have elsewhere in the authority.
The tool has been created as part of the council’s engagement on the upcoming 2014 budget process, and will be accompanied by a series of face-to-face community events across the area.
The simulator covers day-to-day running costs on such matters as staffing, leisure and libraries, social care, roads and winter gritting and waste.
It does not cover capital budgets such as new buildings or transport infrastructure, however.
Nor does it include council tax, as this has been frozen in Scotland over recent years.
Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Cllr Jim Gifford, said: “For the first time, we are asking residents to experience budget-setting for themselves.
‘‘The simulator will allow users to focus spending on areas they feel strongly about, while instantly updating any overspend or underspend.
“It is a great opportunity for people to get a flavour of the often difficult decisions councils have to make in terms of funding priorities and the potential impacts any changes can have for a service.”
Community engagement events are to take place across Aberdeenshire during October and November, and the feedback captured in a report that will be posted on the council website.
The feedback will also be used to inform next year’s budget which councillors will consider in February 2014.
The simulator can be found at www.budgetsimulator.com/aberdeenshire and will be available until Thursday, November 21.