Tax hike to offset cuts is rejected by councillors
Councillors in Cornwall yesterday voted against a grandstand proposal to consider raising council tax by 6% to limit the damage caused by a swathe of budget cuts in the county.
In a recorded vote, councillors backing the motion to propose 6% as an alternative to a 1.97% rise were outnumbered by more than two to one, despite passionate pleas to enlist more support for their cause.
In an often heated debate, councillors heard how only a council tax rise of 19% would offset the damage caused by £24million of cuts planned by the council for the forthcoming year.
The cabinet's 1.97% proposal, which will be considered by full council next month, would see council tax rise by 47p per week for the band D tax payer, whereas 6% would lead to a £1.44 rise per week.
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But led by councillor Bob Egerton, those in favour, argued introducing a 6% rise would reduce the impact of the cuts on services.
Speaking to council, Mr Egerton said: "The cabinet has offered a 1.97% rise. It is based on what they think is a political reality.
"This option involves massive cuts to services across all directorates.
"6% would still entail cuts in council services, more efficiency savings, etc. But it will enable us to have at least £8million more in the revenue budget, not only next year but in subsequent years."
However, council leader John Pollard said he believed that those who want a higher raise will eventually agree to around 2%.
He added of the 556 people who had used the council's You Choose budget setting simulator, the average increase was only around 1%.
"I believe the public will accept it, I believe it is the best we can achieve," he said. "I ask the council to support the idea that 2% is achievable and risk free."
The council unveiled a list of draft proposals earlier this month on how the £24million worth of cuts, should be delivered on top of £19million already planned in the medium term.
Major casualties included the adult care, health and well being budget which would be cut by £11.7million in 2014/15 – a figure which includes a £500,000 reduction in staff costs and £2.3 million from its charging review which is currently being consulted on.
Jeremy Rowe, deputy leader, said: "Unfortunately, whatever we do, the referendum threshold is set up to make this an impossible thing to do.
"My worry about this is about the art of the possible and I think it's a judgment call whatever you go for but in my judgment I don't think this 6% is possible, I don't think people will support it in large enough numbers and I don't believe an awful lot of people are able to afford it."
Last February councillors voted for a council tax freeze for the third year in a row.
The council will consider raising council tax by 1.97% on November 26.