Council tax set to go up by for first time in three years under Kent County Council savings plan
Kent County Council is set to confirm an increase in the council tax for the first time in three years as the authority seeks to balance the books with an £81million savings package.
The proposed 1.9% increase will see bills rise by about £20 from £1,047 to £1,068 for households in Band D homes and a rise of £18.46 for people in Band C homes to £949.92.
County Hall finance chiefs say the increase - which will generate an extra £10m - could be lower if the government decides the trigger point for a referendum on council tax hikes should be lower.
Currently, the threshold set by the government for a vote is 2% but there is speculation it could be brought down to 1.5%.
KCC said if that happened, it would bring the increase down because the costs of staging a referendum would offset any savings.
Cllr John Simmonds (Con), KCC cabinet member for finance, said he felt the public understood the difficulties facing councils.
"I think people will live with it," he said. "Had we increased rather than frozen bills in the last three years, it might be a different ball game.
"If you look at the pressure we are under, it is just not possible to do it without increasing bills."
Over the next three years, KCC expects to have to save £270m and has already set out plans for a radical re-organisation that will see many more services outsourced or privatised.
UKIP opposition group leader Cllr Roger Latchford said his party opposed any tax increases in principle but would take into account KCC's claim it would help avoid cuts to services.
"If the increase is absolutely vital to balance the budget, we will look at it," he said. "The consultation did show the public would support a modest increase rather than cuts in services."
During a consultation on its spending plans for 2014-15, 23% of more than 3,000 respondents said there should be no increase in the council tax while 30% said they would accept an increase of less than 2%.
The Conservative cabinet will meet next week to sign off the budget proposals for 2014-15. A final decision will be made in February.
Several district and borough councils have already signalled that they will also raise the council tax this year - most under 2%.
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