Next steps for Council budget proposals
Darlington Borough Council will hold a Special Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 13 February. Cabinet is set to propose the four-year Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for 2018-22 go forward to Full Council.
Following two months of consultation on the MTFP, in which more than 500 responses were received, Cabinet members are set to recommend additional investment of £4.1m over the next four years.
This investment would be made in key services areas and one-off future projects. The following five themes were proposed:
- Community safety
- A clean street environment
- A vibrant town centre
- Developing an attractive visitor economy, particularly supporting rail heritage
- Neighbourhood renewal
During the consultation, members of the public were asked to rank the themes in order of priority. The responses showed support for all five themes, with community safety the most popular, followed by a clean street environment.
The vast majority of the funding (£2.5m) will be available to fund one-off investments, however £400,000 a year will be built in to the base budget, the majority of which will be invested in street scene. This extra money will be used to:
- Return back lane cleaning from fortnightly to weekly
- Increase the frequency of grass cutting from every 25/30 days to every 12/15 days
- Increase street cleaning resources across the Borough to improve general cleanliness.
The use of the one off investments over the next four years will be considered in the coming months and beyond.
In terms of Council Tax, Cabinet is recommending a 2.99% increase in basic Council Tax with an additional Government-back levy of 3% to fund the increasing costs of adult social care.
Councillor Bill Dixon, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “The Council has suffered massive reductions in Government funding, along with all others in the North-East.
“We have lost £42.4m in real terms and when you consider that our budget is £80m, people will understand why services have had to be reduced over the last few years.
“We are now in a relatively stable financial period, however as recent events have shown, our financial position is finely balanced and things can easily change.
“That said, I feel confident we can continue to manage our resources well and work hard to improve the Borough.
“The money we have set aside for investment in key priorities, although it sounds a large sum, in reality is not a massive amount over a four-year period. But it will make a difference and we need to spend it wisely and use it wherever possible to attract additional funding from others.
“The money to be put in to street scene is much needed and I am very pleased we have been able to do this.
“I am acutely aware of the financial challenges faced by residents and I know some will not welcome the proposed increase in Council Tax. However, I was pleased to see in the consultation that many people understood that rises in tax are needed to ensure we can provide the services people need.”