Tax rise and cuts on county council’s agenda

Chichester's County Hall SUS-160818-125926001

Chichester's County Hall SUS-160818-125926001

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Plans to increase council tax bills and cuts are set to be debated by West Sussex county councillors later this week.

The authority has to plug a £41.6m budget gap in 2017/18 and is proposing to use £9.4m from reserves, make £16.8m of savings, and raise £15.4m through a 3.95 per cent increase in council tax, including a two per cent social care levy.

This will mean a Band D property in West Sussex will have to pay an extra £47.70 a year on top of any increases proposed by Sussex Police and district, borough, town and parish councils.

The budget for 2017/18 will be discussed by a meeting of all county councillors on Friday (February 17) at County Hall in Chichester.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of the county council, said: “As in previous years we have carefully looked at our budget and have made efficiencies and savings wherever possible. We have looked closely at what residents have told us is important to them and have made considered decisions about how to spend the funds we have available to us.

“An increase in council tax is unfortunately inevitable if we want to protect frontline services. But we have kept the increase as low as possible in order to reduce the financial impact on our residents as much as we can.”

According to the council the budget has been planned in line with the priorities of ‘keeping you safe’, ‘providing education and schools’ and ‘roads, buses and countryside’, which were identified by residents last year in the ‘What Matters to You’ survey.

The meeting will also hear about the proposed capital investments of £587m over the next five years including £203m for schools, £11m to improve the quality of footways and pavements, £13m on highways maintenance, £20m to work with adult social care providers to help develop the care market, £11m for equipment and fleet for the fire and rescue service, and £30m to support growth projects across the county.

Mrs Goldsmith added: “Whilst we have been careful to make savings, we have also made sure to look for opportunities for investment to ensure West Sussex remains a great place to live and work.”

The meeting will start at 10.30am. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The meeting will also be webcast at www.westsussex.gov.uk

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