£9m Monmouthshire budget gap could lead to tax increase
11:59am Thursday 5th September 2013 in Gwent news
A £9 MILLION budget gap could see taxpayers in Monmouthshire face a three per cent council tax hike, a meeting of the authority’s cabinet heard yesterday.
Officers have predicted the council will have to cut services to fill a £9 million hole in the 2014/15 budget.
This year, the council is already predicting an overall overspend of £1,178,000, with pressure mounting on the social services and children and young people departments.
Over the next four years the council faces a predicted £23 million gap between expenditure and resources.
Yesterday head of finance Joy Robson told the council’s cabinet raising council tax by three per cent next year would bridge the £9 million gap by £1.5 million.
Residents in a band D property would pay £30.11 extra per year, taking the charge to £1,033.80.
Ms Robson’s response followed a question from Labour leader Cllr Dimitri Batrouni, who asked if there would be time to assess where cuts could be made.
Council leader Cllr Peter Fox said: “We want the whole council to be part of this difficult situation.
“We are trying to get ahead with things this year because of the scale of the gap.
“That’s why we should engage with our communities to see what matters to them.”
Cabinet member for finance and performance improvement Cllr Phil Murphy said all officers were looking at budgets to make savings.
In its latest budget, the council said it would not cut frontline services, with money saved by halving the number of desks and buildings used by council staff and reassigning qualified staff to do jobs done by outside agencies.
To plug gaps, councils can make cuts, choose to put up council tax, use their reserves or try to generate more income.
Monmouthshire’s situation mirrors Newport council, with officers tackling possible budget cuts of £34 million by 2017.
Its local authority is looking at fewer staff, buildings and services.
Monmouthshire council has already made some savings by cutting 42 staff in 13 schools.
Final proposals will be presented to cabinet in mid-February after consultation and the budget will go to council at the end of that month.
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