Cabinet agrees budget proposal with 1.97% council tax rise
CORNWALL Council's Cabinet has recommended a 1.97% increase in council tax saying it was the only way to balance its budget.
The Cabinet considered the budget report for 2013/14 when it met today and while councillors said they would prefer not to raise tax rates they said they had no choice.
However several backbench councillors indicated that they will be presenting alternative budget plans when the issue goes before full council at the end of the month with an aim of freezing tax rates.
Leader of the council Jim Currie said: "We have to be prudent about where we are going to spend our money just like any household."
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He added: "We have, somewhat reluctantly, had to look after our base budget by proposing a council tax increase of 1.97%.
"On balance it seems to be the best thing, in the Cabinet's point of view, of what we should do."
Councillor Neil Burden (Ind) said that he supported the rise and said that comments he had received from people in his division suggested they supported a rise as well.
Mark Kaczmarek (Ind) also supported the rise saying that it was better to have small increases over a number of years instead of a larger increase later on.
Stephen Rushworth (Con) said that he would abstain from the vote as he wanted to wait and see what alternative proposals would be tabled at full council before making a decision.
Former Cabinet member Fiona Ferguson (Con) indicated that she was working with council finance officers to come up with an alternative budget based on a council tax freeze saying that that was Government policy which should be followed.
Mike Eathorne-Gibbons (Con) also indicated that he would be presenting an alternative budget to full council on February 26.
Liberal Democrat councillor Alex Folkes said that he was looking at whether council tax rates could be frozen for another year but said he could not make any firm commitment as he wanted to ensure that service levels would not be affected.
The Cabinet agreed by eight votes to none to support the budget proposal including the 1.97% tax increase.
It also agreed to a proposal that money saved from freezing councillors' allowances – as agreed by full council yesterday – should be used to continue funding for the councillors' community chest as well as road and play area maintenance budgets.
The budget will be put before the full council for a final decision on February 26.