Councillors in Moray approve three per cent increase in council tax for 2022/23
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COUNCILLORS in Moray have today agreed to a three per cent increase in council tax as part of the 2022/23 budget.
Fourteen councillors voted in favour of the SNP budget, with 10 voting for an amended budget put forward by Conservative Group Leader Tim Eagle, which recommended freezing council tax.
The increase in tax will generate £1,475,000 for the council per year. Council Leader Graham Leadbitter (Elgin City South, SNP) said this will prevent "irretrievable damage" being done to council services in the future.
"A council tax freeze would benefit individuals across Moray, but only by a comparatively small amount," he said.
"Increasing the budget by £1.5 million for next year is the equivalent of allowing us to employ 150 new classroom assistants.
"There is no significant reduction to services in this budget – but there would be irretrievable damage to public services in Moray without this three per cent increase."
Cllr Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) said he recognised the pressure freezing council tax would have on council finances, but said it was the "right thing to do" due to the soaring cost of living.
"Food and energy prices are through the roof, with more to come," he said during the meeting. "We recognise the impact this has on people and that's why we are asking for a freeze in council tax.
"We recognise the pressure on the council but it's the right thing to do.
"The cost of living is too much to ask people in Moray to suffer another three per cent increase in council tax."
Cllr Derek Ross (Speyside-Glenlivet, Independent) backed calls for a tax freeze.
He said: "People in Moray deserve a council tax freeze after Covid, with the pressure they are under now and will be under in the future.
"If we are squirrelling away money for rainy day, I'd argue that the rainy day has arrived."
Cllr George Alexander (Forres, Independent), however, said it should be the responsibility of the Scottish and UK governments to alleviate the pressure caused by the rising cost of living.
He added: "We have done what we can by not putting up charges on services that the council provides.
"We are not responsible for ridiculous price increases, we are responsible for providing services that make our lives bearable
"Fuel and food prices are not a consequence of Moray Council decisions, they are a consequence of national government decisions, so surely it should be their responsibility to compensate people."
The increase in council tax, per band, is highlighted below.
Band A £881.91 to £908.37
Band B £1028.90 to £1059.77
Band C £1175.89 to £1211.16
Band D £1322.87 to £1362.56
Band E £1738.11 to £1790.25
Band F £2149.67 to £2214.16
Band G £2590.62 to £2668.35
Band H £3241.03 to £3338.27
There will be a £150 rebate for all households that fall within bands A to D.
Elsewhere, as part of a £240.7 million budget, expenditure of £51.425 million has been approved.
There is a big investment in education, with almost £5 million going towards the design and preliminary works at the new Findrassie Primary School in Elgin. Meanwhile, £3 million will be allocated to improving the condition of other schools in Moray.
£12.1 million has been dedicated to the Moray Growth Deal, with more than £6 million allocated to roads.
Of the funds allocated for roads, £4,350,000 is for resurfacing and improvement works, with £1,185,000 to remedy a landslip on the A95 near the River Isla. In addition, £192,000 has been allocated for the completion of new signals on Orchard Road in Forres.
A total of £4,653,000 will go towards repairing bridges in Moray, with almost £3.8 million of that going towards Craigellachie Bridge.
Almost £750,000 is set to be spent on improving harbours, with £1.7 million for additional cemetery provision in Elgin. There will be £700,000 set aside to construct an astroturf football pitch at Roysvale in Forres – as well as £300,000 for the upkeep of current pitches.
Finally, £2,269,000 has been committed to the NESS Energy From Waste Plant, £800,000 for a Household Waste Recyling Centre in Elgin, £300,000 for works at Dallachy Landfill Site near Spey Bay and £225,000 for the upgrade of Gollachy Recyling Centre in Buckie.