25 February 2009>
Residents living in the Caerphilly county borough could pay just 44p extra per week (Band D) for council services next year.
The council is set to discuss the 2009/10 council tax rate at a special meeting on Thursday (26th February) where it is expected to announce a 2.7% increase. If agreed, this may well be the lowest percentage increase in the whole of Wales.
Cllr Colin Mann, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources and Sustainability, said, "This budget is about making sure that we provide good quality, essential services to the people of our county borough. At the same time we are acutely aware of the financial pressure that so many of our residents are under and have kept the rise to the absolute minimum.
At the start of the budget process there was a gap of nearly £8.5 million between the rising costs of essential services and the funding available to us. The gap has been addressed without cutting essential frontline services to our residents."
In order to meet the £8.5 million shortfall the council has had to take some tough decisions in order to make savings. Some examples include a strict review of every job vacancy, a 30% reduction in overtime working across the council, reducing surplus spaces in schools and a major reduction in the amount of money spent on advertising and promotional literature.
It has been suggested that the council tax increase should be set at 0%, but this could have a detrimental impact on a number of key services. In order to accommodate a 0% rise the range of options that might need to be considered could include:
- Turning off street lights
- Reducing repair of potholes
- Closing leisure centres
- Cutting the £400,000 a year subsidy to Blackwood Miners Institute, putting its future in doubt
- Making council workers compulsory redundancy
- Reviewing the future of OAP homes
- Cutting school budgets
Cllr Colin Mann added, "We are living in extremely difficult times and we need to set aside party politics and work together as a team. This way we can make Caerphilly stand out from other areas and become the first choice for prudent investors and home-grown talent. It is entirely possible to make this happen and build a better county borough for all our residents."
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