County councillors are considering raising the Council Tax for the first time in four years.
East Sussex County Council says any potential rise is down to cuts in government funding and as the authority faces £110 million budget cuts in the 10 years to 2020, the authority’s cabinet will consider three proposals – freezing Council Tax or increasing it by either 1.45 per cent or 1.95 per cent.
The council says budget proposals would see an extra £45 million of additional funding ploughed into the county’s roads infrastructure, a further £10 million set aside for improving unclassified roads and £2.25 million made available over three years for fixing potholes. The additional funding would allow potholes to be repaired more quickly and 42 miles of unclassified roads to be improved – the equivalent of the distance from one end of the county to the other. Meanwhile, over the next four years, a further £339 million would be invested in long-term projects including job creation, funding school places, improving broadband capacity and major improvements to libraries.
The proposals, which will be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday January 28 and referred to the next meeting of the full council next month for a final decision. The council is awaiting the Government’s decision on the threshold at which a Council Tax increase would trigger a referendum before deciding whether to increase Council Tax and by how much.
With uncertainty over freeze grants beyond the next two financial years, an increase in Council Tax would give the authority says it would give it greater control over its spending plans for the long term and reduce the level of cuts to essential services in future years. The extra money derived from any Council Tax increase in 2014-15 would amount to 32p per week extra for a band D property with a 1.45 per cent increase.