A THREE per cent tax hike is being proposed in Moray for the next fnancial year.
It leaves residents facing the prospect of higher taxes for fewer services, with the council proposing to make a series of cuts and savings totalling £3.375 million, while also pulling £7.6 million from reserves to help balance the books.
The stark financial picture is highlighted in a report that will go to Moray councillors next Wednesday.
Over the next two financial years, the council will have to slash an estimated £17 million from its spending.
The ruling Independent/Conservative administration is backing the council tax hike – the maximum permitted by the Scottish Government without paying penalties – as a means to help close the local authority’s funding deficit.
It is expected to raise around £1.1 million.
The annual bill for a Band D property would increase from £1135 to just over £1169.
The administration is also proposing that it take £7.5 million from reserves to cover spending in the next financial year, reducing that fund to around £9.945 million.
Moray Council had been expecting to receive approximately £5.9 million less from the Scottish Government in 2017/2018.
However, the Green Party was able to negotiate a concession before supporting Finance Minister Derek Mackay’s budget last week. It resulted in £160 million – not included in Mr Mackay’s original budget plan – being made available to councils across Scotland. In Moray, this means £2.9 million. However, even with this £2.9 million, Moray Council will still receive around £3 million less from the Scottish Government for the next financial year than it did in 2016/17.
Council convener, Councillor Stewart Cree, said any additional money would not be unwelcome.
He added: "My only concern is that I’d rather be getting it because the government realised there was a problem with local government finances, rather then to get their budget through. It’s like a slice of a lifebelt – and it’s not going to change our budget.
"We’re proposing an increase in council tax of three per cent – the maximum allowed by the Scottish Government – and a number of straightforward issues."
The administration will put the budget proposals before members at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.
See today’s Northern Scot for the full story.