Wiltshire Council proposes council tax rise of 4.99 per cent for 2017-2018
Faced with another major cut in the funding from central government for the next financial year, Wiltshire Council are proposing to increase council tax by the maximum amount before a referendum is triggered: 4.99 per cent.
The increase is made up of 1.99 per cent on normal council tax payments - under government rules a rise of two per cent or more would mean the Council having to subject the increase to a referendum vote. The rest of the increase is the separate social care levy the government allows local authorities to add to their council tax charges.
For the current year this social care levy was set at two per cent. For the 2017-2018 financial year it can be three per cent - and Wiltshire Council are planning to use the full amount: 1.99 + 3.00 = 4.99 per cent.
The extra one per cent rise in the social care levy will raise about £2.3 million.
These proposals change the council's decision in October 2016 to set a four year financial plan. The increases will be put to the last full council meeting of the financial year - and the last before council elections - on February 21.
Despite these funding changes, there is a projected shortfall in the Council's budget for next year and savings of £13,331,000 have been identified to balance the books. These savings include a cut of £3,500,000 in management and staff costs - as the Council's statement puts it, "reducing vacancies, agency and consultancy costs and the review of all service areas."
For a council tax Band D property the 4.99 per cent equates to an increase of £1.69 per week.
The statement from the County hall says that these proposals will allow the Council to "...protect vital frontline services while continuing to invest in key areas..."
Among a capital investment programme for 2017-2018 of £131.5 million are the following sums:
• £38.7 m in the economy and transport
• £3.7 m in broadband improvement
• £6.4 m in campuses and community hubs
• £40.9 m in housing -
- "...all of which help stimulate the economy."
Investment in highways will see £24 m spent on road and bridge repair and maintenance in 2017-2018.
The government's announcement in December said that local authorities can raise up to the three per cent as a social care levy in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. But no social care levy will be allowed for the financial year 2019-2020 - the year that ends just before the general election.
The government funding grant to Wiltshire Council for 2017-2018 has been cut by 17.6 per cent - from £86.71m to £72.31m.
The budget papers can be found on the Wiltshire Council website.