Council taxpayers on Anglesey could face a 9.5% increase in their bills.
Anglesey Council’s executive agreed on Monday to recommend the tax hike, claiming it wants to protect school budgets and other vital services. The proposed increase could see average household bills increase by around £104 a year.
A final decision on the local authority’s annual budget will be made next week.
The county council says it’s ”facing its biggest financial challenge to date” as it tries to make up for a £7 million gap in its budget, following more funding cuts from the Welsh Government.
Around £25 million of savings have been made in the six last years – including £2.5 million of service cuts in the currnt financial year.
The council’s leader, Llinos Medi, said: ”Given the intense financial pressures faced, we have found it increasingly difficult to protect school budgets over the past two years.”
”A reduction in teaching staff has seen class numbers increase and this in turn could impact standards and have dire consequences on the future education of our children.”
”We understand that any increase in Council Tax won’t be popular, but it’s vital that services like education and social services are protected as much as possible for the future of our children and young people.”
A spokesperson cited other factors for the Executive’s decision, including growing pressure on social services, the cost of an increase in teachers’ pay awards and general price inflation.
The executive also backed plans to charge full tax premiums on empty properties – a move designed to meet an increasing demand for affordable housing – and increasing the tax premium on second homes from 25% to 35%.
But the council claims if the budget proposals are approved, the council tax rate will still be around £70 less than the Welsh average – and the second lowest in North Wales.
Councillor Robin Williams, the member for finance, said: ”Like other Welsh councils, we have not seen an end to austerity and our residents and communities continue to suffer as a result.”
”This year’s Welsh Government settlement has reduced our funding, whilst costs continue to rise significantly. Increasing demand has led to over spending in some services, which in turn has eaten into our financial reserves, leaving us now unable to use them to balance this year’s budget.”
Councillors will meet next Wednesday (27th February) to decide their 2019-20 budget.