A WARWICKSHIRE County Council tax increase of just under two per cent looks on the cards when councillors thrash out the budget for 2014-15 at Shire Hall in Warwick today (Thursday).
The Conservatives—who’ve been ruling the council for the past nine months as a minority administration—have been planning a tax increase of 1.99 per cent.
However, the Tories are dependent on support from opposition councillors since they don’t have overall control of the authority. As a result, a degree of horse-trading is expected.
Yesterday (Wednesday) Labour argued that even a 1.99 per cent increase in council tax would mean “serious and damaging cuts to front line services” and said it had done all it could to alleviate these cuts.
The county council is expected to make another round of savings – this time £92 million by 2018—so a further period of serious economic stringency is in the offing.
Cllr June Tandy (Lab, Nuneaton), the leader of the Labour group, said that in preparing its own proposed budget Labour had “delved deep into the county council’s finances” and had used some budget reserves and underspends to fund what it considered to be of vital importance. She said Labour would:
Put £5 million over four years into economic development.
Switch street lights back on with low usage LED lights.
Replace £1 million of the cuts proposed for children’s centres.
Reduce by £3 million proposed cuts to the Supporting People programme.
Included in the proposed Liberal Democrat budget would be spending allocations of £2.5 million for Safer Routes to School/20 mph school safety zones, £1 million for LED streetlights and £100,000 to set up a network of community hubs.
The Lib Dems would also reduce planned cuts in funding to voluntary organisations and allow no cuts in highways maintenance budgets or further cuts to youth services and children’s centres’ funding.
The Greens are also proposing the introduction of new LED street lights, which would cost £7.6 million over four years but produce an initial saving of at least £420,000 a year.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Cons, Stour and the Vale), the leader of the council, said: “For the foreseeable future local government does not have the money it previously had to spend on services. We must be financially responsible and present an honest and realistic picture to the people of Warwickshire about the challenges that lie ahead.”
UPDATE: Councillors were still discussing the budget at 4pm, Thursday.
See also: Alcester Town Council raises tax by 4%
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