Conwy Council proposes council tax rise
Conwy county council is proposing residents fund an extra 2.95% in council tax towards the authority’s coffers from April.
The figure outlined in a report to its finance scrutiny committee and being discussed on Monday, show it is facing a shortfall of around £3.9m in 2021/22.
Efficiencies will account for £2.15m of that, with rest being funded by the new council tax increase.
Last year Conwy initially asked its 55,000 council tax payers to accept a massive 7% hike but the council relented at the last minute, setting the increase at 4.95%.
This year’s proposed rise, 2% lower than last year, would mean a Band D council tax payer paying a little more than 76 pence per week extra – or £39.64 a year.
The council’s settlement from Welsh Government, the revenue it receives to help carry out its duties, has been provisionally set at £166.9m – an increase of 3.6%. The average increase across Wales was 3.8%.
The overall provisional budget being set by the council is good news for schools, with no cuts this year and £2.2m to deal with cost pressures.
Yet other services will have to find average savings of 2% to balance the books.
Over the past eight years services have been asked to find more than £65m in cuts.
The council’s leader, Cllr Sam Rowlands, said the lead-up to the budget proposals had been “one of the most uncertain” the authority had ever had to deal with because of Covid-19.
He added: “It is pleasing in these proposals to not have to ask our schools for any budget savings and to provide an additional £2.2m to deal with their expected pressures.
“In addition, it is pleasing to be able to provide further resilience to our schools through an additional £1.7m support in our education services.
“These proposals also budget for expected pressures in social care and other services whilst keeping their savings ask to a level which is both achievable and reflective of what may be a further year of uncertainty.
“Whilst any council tax rise is not necessarily desirable, an increase of 2.95% will allow us to provide what is required to support our vital services to deliver what our residents need, and is also one of the lowest ever increases, reflecting what is not an easy time for many.”
The authority also gets revenue from leisure facilities, car parks, non-domestic rates and rental income from council owned premises.
However this has made setting budgets more difficult this year due to the effects of the pandemic and reduced economic activity.
There has also been a reduction in council tax revenue as more people, financially hobbled by lockdowns apply for council tax reductions.
So far Welsh Government has been plugging the gaps for both increased expenditure caused by the pandemic and most of the lost revenue.
Last year’s proposed rise of 7% caused a backlash online, with a Facebook Group called Refuse another council tax rise Conwy 2020 leading the charge.
However planned demonstrations outside the county council’s Coed Pella offices in Colwyn Bay only mustered a handful of protesters.
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
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