High­land Coun­cil agrees three per cent rise in coun­cil tax

The Oban Times - - News -

THE HIGH­LAND Coun­cil agreed a three per cent in­crease in coun­cil tax as part of bud­get plans to plug a £20 mil­lion fund­ing gap when it met in In­ver­ness last Thurs­day.

A pack­age of £10.689 mil­lion sav­ings was agreed on top of £ 5.824 mil­lion sav­ings agreed in pre­vi­ous bud­gets.

In ad­di­tion, a 10 per cent dis­count on sec­ond homes has been scrapped.

From April 2017 the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is chang­ing the ba­sis on which prop­er­ties are as­sessed for coun­cil tax which will in­crease the charge for E to H banded homes.

Chair­man of the com­mu­nity ser­vices com­mit­tee, and Caol and Mal­laig coun­cil­lor, Allan Hen­der­son told The Oban

Times: ‘This would have been a rea­son­able bud­get, af­ter a suc­ces­sion of cuts, had it not been for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s large in­crease on the higher banded houses.

‘Cit­i­zen panel sur­veys had clearly in­di­cated the pub­lic was in favour of small rates in­creases, so the coun­cil agreed to a mod­est three per cent.

How­ever the gov­ern­ment has in­creased higher band houses separately with, for ex­am­ple, band H houses ris­ing by more than 20 per cent, or ap­prox­i­mately £ 500, which will also look like coun­cil rises.’

High­land Coun­cil also made a last minute U-turn on plans to cut NHS High­land fund­ing be­fore the bud­get meet­ing.

It has now agreed to give £1.174 mil­lion from emer­gency re­serves to pro­tect adult care.

Mr Hen­der­son also said he was pleased bud­get lead­ers had agreed to pro­tect road and win­ter main­te­nance bud­gets.

He said: ‘Rep­re­sent­ing a very ru­ral area which is more sus­cep­ti­ble to frost and ic­ing, it is vi­tal ad­e­quate re­sources are avail­able for clear­ing and re­pair­ing win­ter dam­age.

Hope­fully this bud­get will al­low us to pur­chase, or at least rent, a sec­ond jet-patcher, which has more than proven it­self across the High­land roads over the last tar­ring sea­son.’

Bud­get leader Coun­cil­lor Bill Fernie said: ‘This has been a very dif­fi­cult bud­get as we have had to bridge a gap of £20 mil­lion be­tween ex­pen­di­ture and fund­ing.

‘We have done our best to re­duce the sav­ings where we can to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ties and safe­guard em­ploy­ment.’

A com­par­i­son of Coun­cil Tax Charges be­tween 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 can be found at www.high­land.gov.uk/down­loads/down­load/525/coun­cil_­tax_ rates

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