Tighten seatbelts for council tax hike
Spring may be on the way but there are chilly days to come for county council service users and taxpayers. Kent councillors have approved a budget that will see local tax bills rise by just under 4% and include cuts of £80 million.
And they have been warned that finances will be even tighter next year.
The council tax rise, the highest for the county in several years, is needed to help balance the books as cuts in government grants continue.
The authority is in a pretty difficult position and in some cases the tax increase is clearly justified. Half of the increase is to help cover the soaring costs and demands for care for the elderly and vulnerable.
There is an increasing ageing population and money has to be found to look after them, fully and properly.
Meanwhile there is a double whammy for transport – enormous slashes in road maintenance and cuts in bus subsidies, affecting both those with and without cars.
The stance of central government has to be questioned – why should it impose such draconian cuts and dump the financial burden on hard-pressed local taxpayers?
Either way council officers and members have the unenviable task of making the hardest decisions to pare down some badly needed services, which will have a direct effect on people in Ashford, Shepway and the rest of Kent.