Cornwall Council will have to raise taxes or cut frontline services
CORNWALL Council will have to raise council tax rates or have to cut frontline services according to its outgoing chief executive.
Kevin Lavery gave the stark warning to the council's Cabinet when it met this week to discuss its budget plan for 2013-14 which proposes a council tax rise of 1.97%.
The increase has been put forward by the council's finance officers who say it is necessary due to cuts in Government funding for the council.
However while the budget has been endorsed by council leader Jim Currie, cabinet member and Conservative group leader Fiona Ferguson has indicated that she will be putting forward an alternative budget based on freezing council tax rates.
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In response to a debate had by the Cabinet Mr Lavery gave a clear warning that a freeze in council tax would require cuts to be made to key services.
He said: "Members need to be realistic about forthcoming years. You are going to have to make quite significant cuts in frontline services in coming years."
He warned that future cuts by the government in council funding could leave Cornwall Council with as much as 50% less than it had in 2009.
He added: "If you are going for a freeze you must identify which frontline services you will cut. You will have to take frontline services out. You can't pretend that you won't have to do that."
The Cabinet meeting saw several members speaking against Mrs Ferguson's proposals with many asking where the savings and money would come from to support a tax freeze.
Supporting the proposal to raise council tax rates by 1.97% Lance Kennedy said: "It is blatantly obvious that we need to recommend this budget to the council. They have seen enough budgets in their time to know they need to support this."
However Mrs Ferguson did have some slight support from cabinet member Stephen Rushworth who said he would abstain from the vote and only make a decision once he had seen Mrs Ferguson's proposals.
The Cabinet voted in favour of the budget and business plan with Mrs Ferguson and Mr Rushworth abstaining.
The budget will now go before the council's overview and scrutiny committees which will look at the proposals for individual departments and make any recommendations to alter the suggestions.
It will then go back before the Cabinet which will make a final recommendation to go before the full council in February.