SDC suggests 2% rise in council tax and staff cuts

SDC suggests 2% rise in council tax and staff cuts

SDC suggests 2% rise in council tax and staff cuts

First published in News Bridgwater Mercury: Photograph of the Author by

REDUNDANCIES and a potential 2% rise in council tax are some of the items on the table as Sedgemoor District Council battles to cut £780,000 from its budget.

The ideas were discussed last week as the council considers ways of balancing the books for the coming year.

At a meeting of the council’s executive last week, it was revealed that members have already approved an estimate of up to £1.2million from the Community Development Fund in order to pay the severance costs needed to deliver a voluntary redundancy/flexible retirement scheme.

The report to members said: “This is an ‘invest to save’ project.

“It meets the council’s policy of payback within two years and will deliver ongoing savings of around £600,000 which will assist in maintaining services to the public.”

A spokesman for SDC confirmed the council has had a voluntary redundancy scheme for several years ant it looks like 35 staff could go over two years.

She added: “There are only 366 council staff, so that’s a big percentage loss.

"However, the planned redundancies mean we can manage the workforce to deliver services to the usual high standard, either through additional training or enhanced systems.

"We are also putting back £300,000 into the budget to re-engineer the council to meet changing demand, as well as introducing an apprenticeship scheme.

“There are also a few jobs done by only one person. This means if that job goes, a whole service could be affected.”

The council’s overall spending pot is about £15million but Dawn Hill, deputy leader of SDC, told the committee: “It’s a very prudent budget and it has allowed us to plan for the future.

“We are aiming to deliver a totally balanced budget in 2018/19.”

Another option being considered is to raise its council tax demand for 2014/15 by 2%.

Last year it was increased by 3.4%, meaning the average Band D household had to fork out £135.09 per year – an increase of £4.44.

But the Government has not yet issued any guidance in relation to tax increases and until it does a final tax increase cannot be approved.

Sedgemoor’s chief executive, Kerry Rickards, said: “I want to make it clear that these are only proposals and nothing is set in stone until the final decisions are made at the full council meeting on February 19.

“The bottom line is savings need to be made and some services need to be cut – there’s just not enough money to go around.”

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