LIKE any Staffordshire household, the starting point for Staffordshire County Council is to ensure every pound of your taxpayers' money is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible and during January and February we are developing our budget for the next five years to strike the fairest deal for our residents.
It is important we manage our money well here in Staffordshire. This ensures that the county council with our partners continue to provide the services people need, such as care for elderly people or looking after vulnerable children in need of our help.
While there are green shoots in the local and national economy, we know that families and individuals across Staffordshire are hard pressed and we do not want to make any further demands on your finances, so we are working towards freezing council tax again in April, for the fourth year in a row.
We live in a changing world of digital data and the world wide web and we need to change with it. From social care to libraries we must ensure that the support or services we provide adapts to the way people live their lives both today and tomorrow.
For example, libraries have changed significantly in recent years offering more computers and internet access, e-books and e-magazines, as well as providing a valuable hub for community groups.
However, the numbers of people coming through our library doors have declined and people are borrowing fewer books, so it is right that we look at what we can change so that our library service is fit for this new world and provides what our residents want. We are keen to hear from people on our proposals and I would encourage anyone with an interest to have their say.
As we finalise our budget over the coming weeks, and subsequent months, we want to continue the conversation with residents as we continue looking for new innovative ways to do things that at the same time deliver real value for money, help people prosper and live healthy, independent lives. Although we have less money to spend, that does not mean services cannot continue to improve as we need to be clear what our priorities are.
That is why I urge residents to make their views heard in public consultations that we will be running in the months ahead.