CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has approved a budget including a Council Tax increase of 3.45 per cent, or £45.42 a year, for the average band D property – that’s roughly 87 pence a week.
Leader of the council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said the increase is below the national average and was financially prudent given the financial consequences of Covid-19, some costs of which are still unknown.
Council Tax contributes around 26 per cent to the county council’s £386million net revenue budget which is spent on providing services to residents and businesses in Carmarthenshire.
The biggest share of Council Tax contributions is spent on education and children’s services, followed by housing and adult social care.
The budget passed by council also provides a further £133million investment in capital projects which will include regeneration schemes, redevelopment of schools, highway and leisure facility improvements and provision of affordable housing to improve Carmarthenshire.
Cllr David Jenkins, Executive Board Member for Resources, said: “This is a prudent and sustainable budget that reflects our commitment to provide first-class services to the residents and businesses of Carmarthenshire, and our ambitions to grow and improve the county, whilst providing contingencies that will see us through the continued challenges presented by the pandemic.”
The council has a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget every year, ensuring that income from sources such as Council Tax, revenue from paid-for services and grants is enough to cover planned expenditure, as well as having money in reserves to pay for unplanned expenses.
Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the council’s budget – around £20million in extra costs have been incurred over the last year, around £10million of income has been lost, and Council Tax collection is currently around £2million lower than expected.
Further contingency planning has been accounted for to ensure critical services can still be delivered whilst the pandemic continues to affect the county.
Following consultation, savings proposals around gulley cleansing and street cleansing were removed from the budget, and plans to cut spend on highway surface dressing were reduced.
Additional funding has been made available to support the education department and to invest in the council’s TrueCall service which safeguards vulnerable residents from fraudsters.
Furthermore, around £2.5million of internal managerial savings will be made in the coming financial year, with around £6.7million of further savings over the following two years.