County set to approve 4.5 per cent Council Tax rise
A COUNCIL Tax increase of 4.5 per cent is set to be approved by Herts County Council. Members are expected to give the go-ahead for the rise at a meeting on Tuesday. The increase has been recommended by the county council s Cabinet. Cllr David Lloyd, exec
A COUNCIL Tax increase of 4.5 per cent is set to be approved by Herts County Council.
Members are expected to give the go-ahead for the rise at a meeting on Tuesday.
The increase has been recommended by the county council's Cabinet.
Cllr David Lloyd, executive member for resources, said the county council had introduced more than £18 million of efficiency savings to keep the increase "as low as possible".
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He said: "It has been a real challenge to balance our books without the necessary support from the Government."
Cllr Lloyd continued that the budget for 2008-09 was "prudent" and "forward-thinking".
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In spite of the pressures the Cabinet approved the spending of an extra £10 million on highways maintenance and £16 million to be spent over the next three years on a capital building scheme for schools.
"Our hands have been tied by yet another below-inflation grant increase from the Government," said Cllr Lloyd.
"We are having to cope with extra costs due to added burdens imposed by the Government and an ageing population."
The county council has earmarked the sum of £655,000 to be set aside for a Fighting for the Future scheme.
This will be used to deal with issues relating to strategic planning such as fighting incursions on the green belt.
And proposals to reduce funding for the county council's dial-a-ride scheme will not be approved until the issue has been examined by a members' topic group.
The increase will mean an increase of less than £1-a-week for a Band D property rising from £1,034-a-year to £1,081-a-year.
Speaking on the budget, Cllr Chris White, the Liberal Democrat group leader on the county council, said: "The county council must do everything to ensure that overheads are pared back to protect frontline services."
Cllr White said his group had demanded that the Conservative administration look at issues such as communications costs, consultancy costs and the cost of management travel.
"We hope to get agreement that there should be a member investigation into items such as consultancy and travel costs with a view of increased savings in future year," he said.
He said there appeared to be £10 million earmarked for meeting the costs of self-employed consultants and work by specialist consultancies.