PREPARE for a huge council tax rise.
That’s the warning from opposition Conservatives on Kirklees Council. The new Labour-Lib Dem coalition is drawing up plans for the budget and council tax rate for 2009/10.
But the Tories – who ran Kirklees until last month – warned council taxpayers to expect a big hit.
Conservative leader Clr Robert Light said yesterday: “In just two weeks the Lib/Lab pact have proved they are incapable of running the council’s finances, incapable of making efficiency savings and are determined to introduce a huge rise in council tax just at the time people are facing the worst economic crisis in living memory.
“The Lib/Lab pact are proving they are part of the problem not the solution.”
Clr Andrew Palfreeman, who had responsibility for the budget until the Conservatives were ousted, said his party had inherited a mess when they took over from the Lib Dems in 2006.
He said: “The budget was teetering on the verge of disaster because they were unable to control council finance.”
Clr Palfreeman said his party had planned a council tax increase of 3% for 2009/10.
He said: “Our budget plans for the coming year would have continued to protect the services that most affected local people while not going beyond the 3% tax increase and retaining a pensioner discount.
“I’m sure everyone looks forward to hearing how the new Labour-led administration intends to match our budget.”
But Kirklees deputy leader Clr Kath Pinnock claimed the Conservatives had left Labour and the Lib Dems with a multi-million pound hole in the budget.
The Cleckheaton Lib Dem said: “We’ve opened the books and found we’re going to have to make £44m of savings over the next three years.”
Clr Pinnock revealed that limiting the council tax increase to 3% would cause “a lot of pain”.
She said: “The budget discussions that the Lib Dems and Labour have had indicate there’s going to be a lot of pain to keep the council tax increase to 3%. If the Tories want to keep council tax increase to 3% and slash services then let’s see their proposals.”
Proposals for making budget savings will be unveiled at a Cabinet meeting on February 10. The budget and council tax rate will be decided at a special council meeting on February 25.