COUNCILLORS announced plans today for a 3.5% council tax increase.
The proposal from Kirklees Council’s ruling Labour-Lib Dem coalition would also see 40 jobs go.
If the increase goes ahead at the council’s annual budget meeting next week, householders in the middle Band D bracket will pay an extra £46 a year from April.
The joint Labour-Lib Dem budget proposal for 2009/10 announced today include an extra £5.3m for children’s services and more investment in adult care. There would also be extra spending to help people cope with the recession, including more money for housing and benefit advice, skills training and apprenticeships.
Clr Mehboob Khan, Labour leader of Kirklees, said: “This budget is our pledge to steer our towns and communities through this recession, with a focus on fairness and improving the services which residents have told us are important to them.
“A strong focus on cutting waste has produced efficiency savings of £9m a year, this budget provides exceptional value for money.”
Clr Kath Pinnock, the Lib Dem deputy leader of Kirklees, added: “Investing in the future of our children and adults who need our care will make sure that, despite these difficult times, Kirklees is a place where our priority is caring for and protecting the most vulnerable in our community.
“We are committed to creating a bright future for our children, as is demonstrated by the extra investment in children’s services.”
The Labour-Lib Dem budget would mean the loss of 40 jobs – but the parties believes this can be achieved through “natural wastage”.
The budget and council tax rate will be decided at a special meeting of all 69 councillors on Wednesday. Between them, Labour and the Lib Dems have 41 seats.
But Conservative Clr Robert Light, who was ousted as council leader last month, said his party had been planning a council tax rise of 3% rather than 3.5%.
He said: “They couldn’t resist could they? Despite all the pressure we’ve put them under, Labour and the Lib Dems are putting taxes up. They want to spend, spend, spend without tackling the difficult problems.”
Clr Light said the 22-strong Conservative group would reveal their budget plan at the special council meeting on Wednesday – but accepted his party had “no chance” of getting it implemented.
He said: “People will be able to see what a Conservative budget would have got them, and how much they would have had to pay for it. But, I accept that Labour and the Lib Dems have a majority on the council so there’s no chance of our proposals being implemented.”
Clr Light revealed that the Tory budget would focus on dealing with the economic downturn. He said: “The Labour-Lib Dem proposal to boost benefit advice service is a smokescreen. We have brought together a number of initiatives to boost the economy.”
Meanwhile, Clr Andrew Cooper, who leads the four-strong Green group on Kirklees, is hopeful of getting some of his party’s ideas in the budget. He said: “We’ve put a number of things forward to Labour and the Lib Dems and we hope they will look on them favourably.”
Among the Green party proposals is the scrapping of the Tesco and Queensgate redevelopment plans for Huddersfield town centre.
Clr Cooper said: “This would save the council £7.5m next year. We need to move away from these prestige developments and focus on things that help communities, like improving energy efficiency.”
The party also wants to build a children’s play area on Macaulay Street opposite Huddersfield Bus Station.
See what your council tax will be on the next page.
Current council tax rates:
Band A £885.21
Band B £1,032.74
Band C £1,180.28
Band D £1,327.81
Band E £1,622.88
Band F £1,917.95
Band G £2,213.02
Band H £2,655.62
Labour-Lib Dem plan:
Band A £915.58
Band B £1,068.18
Band C £1,220.78
Band D £1,373.37
Band E £1,678.57
Band F £1,983.76
Band G £2,288.96
Band H £2,746.75
All figures include police and fire service charges. Households in the Holme Valley, Kirkburton, Meltham, Denby Dale and Mirfield pay slightly more than the amounts shown here to fund their parish councils.