Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Turkeys do not vote for an early christmas!

Test Valley Borough Council has now set its budget for 2009/2010 after a 2 ½ hour debate during which the Liberal Democrat opposition questioned many aspects of the proposals.Test Valley’s council tax will rise by 4.5%, 23 vacant jobs have been deleted and a further 20 – 30 redundancies are expected. The Lib Dems argued that while the increase in council tax was inevitable it should be tempered by a freeze on increases in fees and charges, set to rise by 5%. Deferring increases in charges would cost the council £50,000. This could be more than met by savings in the cost of councillors and the mayoralty we argued. The mayor’s office currently costs taxpayers £126,000 a year. A further Lib Dem proposal to reduce councillor numbers to save an additional £500,000 per year from 2011 was also rejected.

Speaking after the meeting Lib Dem leader Len Gates said "I am disappointed that we lost the vote but feel we did win the arguments. It was heartening to hear that the economic portfolio holder is willing to work with us to look for future cost savings. This problem is not going to go away we will need to continue to look for economies throughout the council and that must include the cost of the councillors themselves."