Battle of the council tax freeze budgets at County Hall
5:00pm Monday 25th February 2013 in Truro
The battle of the budgets is continuing at County Hall, as the two main political parties at the authority push to freeze council tax for the coming year.
According to the chief finance officer, the Lib Dem plan is said to satisfy "the essential requirement of an amendment to the budget in that the savings recommended address the whole budget shortfall arising from a no increase in the council tax".
However concerns remain about where the axe will fall if it is accepted.
The same officer said that the Conservative plan simply did not add up, saying: "This proposal does not satisfy for an essential amendment to the budget in that it fails to deliver a medium term sustainable budget strategy”
One councillor, Andrew Wallis (Ind, Helston South and Porthleven) is warning that if this ammendment is accepted there will be more job loses and services the council provides will be reduced, or stopped completely.
While both sides are pushing for a zero per cent rise, even for the very wealthiest people in Cornwall, the authority has just voted to make the very poorest in Cornwall pay council tax.
This has led to claims that the freeze is little more than a bid to gain positive headlines in advance of the local government elections in May, with cllr Wallis saying both budget amendments were "more about election headlines, than a sensible budget, which will protect services".
He said: "Everyone wants low Council Tax bills and good services. And in an ideal world, the council should be able to set a zero per cent budget.
"But it is not an ideal world, the financial pressures are massive, which have been made worse by the very party in Government this amendment comes from. Even worse, MPs are putting pressure on people to have a zero per cent budget, so they and their party look good too.
"I say to them, concentrate on your own house, before you tell Cornwall Council what to do.
"For me, I do not mind paying an extra £25 or so per year because services will be protected if an increase of 1.97 per cent is implemented. We have had two-years of no increase. So it has not all been doom and gloom.
"The very same party [Conservative] behind this amendment has made the poorest and most in need pay 25 per cent, or over £300 extra, per year. But seem happy to push for a zero per cent increase even though it will make services worse."
Read what the council's own expert officer said about the two plans.
The Lib Dem amendment:
The Conservative amendment: