COUNCIL tax payers could be hit after the Government announced a “very poor” increase in funding to the city council.
Last Thursday (December 6), the Government announced draft plans which will see its grant to Chester City Council rise by 2% over three years, the lowest to any council in Cheshire.
Chester City Council’s council tax precept may have to be increased to maintain current spending.
The Local Government Finance Settlements would mean a headline increase in grant for Chester City Council of 1% for 2008/09 (based on adjusted 2007/08 figures), 0.5% for 2009/10 and 0.5% for 2010/11.
Conservative Stephen Mosley, deputy leader of Chester City Council, said: “This is a very poor settlement not even covering inflation.
“It means that Chester City Council faces a real term reduction in funding when demands and public expectations for services are rising.
“This is exacerbated by the very poor financial situation left behind by the previous Lib Dem and Labour administration in May.”
Cllr John Price (Lab, Blacon Hall) said the increase is disappointing but insists it is up to the Tory administration to control its budget.
He said: “As in previous years, every administration has to manage what it is given and if they can’t they should resign.
“There is no poor financial situation left behind. It’s an invention on their part. Cllr Mosley just wants to score cheap political points.
“They’re probably going to cut services and I don’t think the people of Chester will like that.”
The increase from £9,851 million to £9,949 million will be used to fund council services over the next 12 months.
The council’s executive meets in January to finalise its medium term financial strategy and announce its draft budget proposals for 2008/09, including levels of council tax, before making a final recommendation to Full Council on February 28.
Councillor Richard Short, executive member for resources, said: “This miserly settlement from the Government, as ever, fails to recognise the particular problems that face a historic city with a massive, albeit welcome, influx of visitors to our city and our heritage to maintain.
“The council tax payer has been constantly called on to bridge the shortfall, but we shall do our best to contain any increases in the tax to that of inflation.”