COUNCILLORS in East Sussex are considering raising Council Tax for the first time in four years – as part of a budget which would see more than £57 million of new funding for the county’s roads.
As East Sussex County Council 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 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, from Lewes to Rye.
The proposals, which will be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 28, will then be referred to the next meeting of the full council, on Tuesday, February 11, 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 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, which would amount to 32p per week extra for a band D property with a 1.45 per cent increase or 43p per week with a 1.95 per cent increase, would be used to protect frontline services.
The proposed budget for the 2014-15 financial year would see at least £369 million spent on services, compared to £380 million in the 2013-14 budget.
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.
Full details of the proposals are available in the cabinet papers online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil/about/committees/meetingpapers/cabinet/2014/28january.htm
The proposed budgets for each of the councils departments, along with the change from the 2013-14 budget, are listed below:
Adult Social Care – £158.4 million (down 7%)
Communities, economy and transport (including roads and libraries) – £61.5 million (down 8%)
Childrens Services (including schools) – £66.2 million (down 7%)
Public Health – £24.4 million (up 3%)
Business Services – £23.2 million (down 12%)
Governance Services – £7.2 million (down 9%)