Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Committee will meet next week to consider how it is going to fill a £6m hole in the council’s budget.
Officials say the scope for further cuts to services has been “exhausted” and the only remaining options to find the £6m is to raise Council Tax and use council cash reserves.
A Council Tax rise of 6.71% would raise just short of £5m, the council would use cash reserves to make up the difference, the move could be adopted by the Cabinet at next week’s meeting.
A council spokesperson said:
“Despite considerable change and cost-cutting over a series of annual budgets, there still remains a budget gap of close to £6m for 2018/19 with few options remaining. The scope for further service portfolio reductions has been exhausted.
The Council can do little more at this stage and finds itself, along with every other Council in Wales and England, in an unprecedented and increasingly difficult situation given the continued austerity programme being pursued by the UK Government.”
We have no option but to openly consider the use of reserves and balances to part close the remaining budget gap and then to set a higher than traditional level of Council Tax for 2019/20.”
Council Tax rising to 6.7% on an average Band D property in Connah's Quay would see an increase of £74 per year.
That figure does not account for any uplift in Town / Community council or Police precept.
Councils in Wales are funded by the Welsh Government through a mechanism called the Local Government Funding Formula.
The formula includes a calculation of what each council needs called the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA)
The SSA is based on factors including demography, population change and deprivation and while its a theoretical calculation the SSA determines how much of the share of public funds the Welsh Government gives to Flintshire
The SSA for Flintshire is set at £264m, Flintshire is set to receive £189m from the Welsh Government, -0.2% down on the previous year, if council tax remains at its current level then the council will be left with a £6m hole in the budget.
Low Funded Council
The Welsh Government funding formula gives Flintshire £368 less per person than the best funded authority in Wales and despite all fingers being pointed to the UK Government its worth noting Assembly Members, the majority being Labour AM’s, voted to rank Flintshire 19th out of 22 local authorities in terms of revenue funding per head.
Council officers say they have made three specific requests to Welsh Government for assistance with the budget and they are under negotiation.
Budget pressures on the council has forced it to make a raft of savings and some decisions have been controversial, charging for garden waste collection will raise nearly £1m a year but the move has left many residents angry. A proposal to hand schools a ‘cash flat’ budget has been met with concern by the counties headteachers.
“We fully recognise and share the risk position for our schools and fully appreciate that schools are concerned about the impact of a potential cash flat settlement to their delegated budgets.
We have been very open with head teachers about the financial challenges facing the Council and the subsequent impact on schools’ funding with the risks that it poses. We are trying to find at least a partial solution with very few options at our disposal. Given the overall budget position, the Council must continue to focus on setting a legally balanced budget.” A spokesperson said: