COUNCILLORS have given the green light to plans to raise council tax across the county.
At a meeting of Dorset County Council’s cabinet, councillors approved plans to increase council tax by 1.99 per cent for the next financial year and up to two per cent for subsequent years.
But the council is able to present a balanced budget after fears they would be facing a deficit of more than £2million and councillors pledged to carry out more public consultation on the issues facing the authority.
The report’s recommendations were approved in full by councillors and will be discussed at the next full council meeting.
Speaking at the meeting at County Hall in Dorchester, cabinet member for corporate resources Councillor Robert Gould said the budget for the next three years assumes increases in council tax of two per cent each year.
The exact amount will be dependent on government decisions on a council tax cap.
Cllr Gould added that there is a ‘high degree of uncertainty’ beyond 2016 and further increases and budget decisions will be based on the outcome of the general election.
But looking forward he promised the council will place an ‘increased emphasis’ on public consultation.
Councillor Toni Coombs, cabinet member for education and communications, said consultation should be done ‘face to face’, rather than through the council’s website. She added: “The more we can do this, the more it shows we are listening.”
Presenting the report, Cllr Gould said the council will present a balanced budget after being informed in December last year of a deficit of £2.4million.
A surplus on collection funds and part of the Public Health Grant being made available for county council services has helped to close this gap to £500,000, which will be funded from contingency reserves.
But overspends were reported in adult and community services, children’s services and the environment.
Cllr Gould said: “Through a period of change and challenge we are now able to present a budget which is robust.
“We will be making changes in the way we deliver services but we will not be resorting to crude cuts.”
He added: “Because of the way we have run finances in the past we are a very well resourced council and I think that’s something we can all take great pride in.”