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Council needs you to help balance its books

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Have you ever wanted to be in charge of a £90 million budget? Now you can.

Mansfield District Council is giving residents the chance to control its budgets by taking part in an interactive online consultation.

Mansfield District Council's income generator on the online simulator.

Mansfield District Council's income generator on the online simulator.

The consultation will take place between Monday, July 16 and Tuesday, August 14, giving you the ability to advise the council on how best to spend and manage its £92.5 million budget.

The consultation is made up in the form of an online simulation, with residents able to analyse all sections of the council’s finances and allocate the amount of money they feel is necessary for each form of expenditure.

Councillor Roger Sutcliffe, portfolio holder for finance at Mansfield District Council, said: “We want as many of you as possible to try to balance the budget so we can understand what services you value the most.

“We also hope it will give you a chance to understand the financial challenges we face in having to make savings in order to balance our budgets in the coming years.”

The simulator gives residents a say on whether to spend more or less on front line services across the district, and then explains what impact these changes will have to the services you have altered.

Residents are also able to comment on the online simulator, alerting the council about how they found using the overall task of managing the council’s finances.

The simulator is split into six sections for review: cultural services; neighbourhood services; community safety; town centre operations; corporate services and income generation.

For example, when managing the budget for cultural services, residents can allocate money to the Mansfield Museum, the Palace Theatre and the Leisure Development department, with an indicator at the top of the screen alerting residents if they have overspent on the budget.

Income generation focuses on how much money to charge for services such as garden waste, car park charges and asset investment, which is one of the biggest ways councils collect money for additional services.

By reducing the amount to charge for services in the income generation, residents will be alerted to the amount of overspend that would transpire from a decrease in income.

Increasing the charges in this section allows for more money to be spent throughout the council’s budget, meaning there is more money available for other sections on the simulator.

Residents can use the simulator by visiting Mansfield District Council’s website at https://mdc.budgetsimulator.com.