COUNCIL chiefs in Carmarthenshire say they have listened to residents and trimmed the proposed rise in council tax in Carmarthenshire next financial year.
A common theme from a public consultation on the draft budget proposals for 2021-22 was council tax being kept to a minimum due to the pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Plaid-Independent administration is now proposing a 3.95% rise – down from the 4.89% and then 4.48% increase previously put forward.
The budget will be set a meeting of full council next week.
Other changes put forward at a meeting by Cllr David Jenkins, executive board member for resources, included scrapping plans for a £70,000 cut in road gulley cleaning.
The administration also plans to trim £100,000 from the road surface dressing budget instead of £300,000, as had been previously proposed.
A £75,000 investment into a nuisance phone call blocking system set up by the council’s Trading Standards service is also proposed.
As well as the public consultation, cross-party council scrutiny committees have been assessing the spending plans and making recommendations.
The council’s net revenue budget is expected to be £387.1 million in 2021-22, with education and social services accounting for more than 70% of this sum.
Funding will come from the Welsh Government’s revenue settlement grant – due to be 3.8% more than the current year – redistributed business rates, and council tax.
The administration aims to make what it described as internal managerial savings of £2.5 million in 2021-22, which it said should not impact service delivery.
Covid-19 has had a big effect – around £20 million in extra costs have been incurred over the last year, and around £10 million of income has been lost. But the vast majority of this has been reimbursed by the Welsh Government.
Like all councils, Carmarthenshire faces financial pressures such as wage increases and inflationary costs.
Cllr Cefin Campbell said he welcomed the amended road gulley and surface dressing proposals, and added that investment was needed in rural roads.
The authority has money held in various reserves, which serve differing purposes. But the sum held in general reserves, which doesn’t have restrictions as to its use, is only just within what the council deems to be prudent.
Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “Nobody should just think we can just solve problems by taking money out of reserves.”
Speaking after the meeting, council leader Emlyn Dole said: “We are very conscious of the struggles people are facing at the moment.
“We have worked hard to adjust our budget proposals so that we can continue our focus on critical services as well as minimising the impact on residents as far as possible.”