Argyll & Bute set for council tax increase

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Council tax payers in Argyll and Bute will face a hike of 4.79 per cent in their bills as a result of the authority’s 2019/20 budget, it has been announced.

Deputy council leader Councillor Gary Mulvaney confirmed the news today (Tuesday), in a joint statement released with leader Councillor Aileen Morton on behalf of the authority’s administration. The statement was issued two days before Argyll and Bute Council finalises its budget for the coming financial year.

Councillor Mulvaney said:  “This year’s Scottish Government budget breaks a long-standing SNP manifesto commitment about maintaining council tax levels.

“Faced with a choice between slashing a vital service like social care or increasing council tax, we’ve decided to go along with SNP guidance and increase council tax by 4.79 per cent.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Morton highlighted the demands of delivering a responsible budget to safeguard core council services – and stated that it means making tough choices now.

She also stated that due to additional funding being available in 2018/19, it will be tougher to invest in roads across the area over the coming financial year.

Councillor Morton said: “Our core funding has been reduced by a further £3million this year.

“This means that we, like all Scottish councils, have had to look at some very difficult proposals this year, with a shortfall of almost £8m to consider and very significant budget gaps forecast for the next two years too.

“We also need to balance delivering a responsible budget with keeping Argyll and Bute a great place to live, work and visit.

“Last year due to careful financial management we were able to make significant capital investment in roads across Argyll and Bute.

“As that investment continues into this year, we will consider other ways to prioritise keeping Argyll and Bute’s roads safe and open for business.”

In compiling the council’s budget pack for last week’s meeting of the policy and resources committee, head of strategic finance Kirsty Flanagan had highlighted the potential council tax increase.

She said in the pack: “In light of the estimated reduction in the Scottish Government funding together with cost increases in respect of pay, inflation and other pressures, I have assumed that the council would wish to increase the council tax by 4.79 per cent, however, this is a matter for council to decide.

“In terms of the future years, I have assumed no increase in the worst case scenario, a three per cent increase in the mid-range scenario and a 4.79 per cent increase in the best case scenario.”