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Flintshire residents facing 2.9% council tax rise

FLINTSHIRE residents are facing a 2.9% council tax rise after a £1.4m budget black hole was plugged.

The increase, the smallest in the authority’s history, is expected to be rubber-stamped by councillors next month.

The draft proposals for the authority’s 2013-14 budget did not include any significant cuts to services – with County Hall chiefs finding £5.4m worth of ‘efficiencies’ to help balance the books.

Labour council leader Aaron Shotton said the budget, the first since his party ousted the ruling coalition last May, was ‘a stepping stone’.

And he knows the council will have to find further savings totalling at least £29m over the next four years.

Cllr Shotton said the plans, approved by the cabinet at County Hall on Tuesday, were made amid ‘a difficult and bleak forecast for public services’.

After the council balanced up a £1.4m shortfall left by the previous leadership, he added: “There were many challenging shortfalls picked up by this administration, but our prime guiding principle is our mission to protect services.”

Cllr Shotton told the meeting there were ‘difficult decisions to come’.

But he added: “This council will look radically different in years to come.

“We will redistribute less on management costs and more on apprenticeships and jobs that make a difference out on our streets.”

The 2.9% council tax rise equates to an increase of £27.04 a year and an annual Band D rate of £959.43.

A report prepared for cabinet members ahead of this week’s meeting said: “There are no significant cuts to services or new job reductions and there is additional investment in council priorities.”

The report states the council has protected ‘core services’ where national funding has been reduced.

It also says provision is being made in preparation of the Westminster coalition’s impending welfare cuts.

The report adds: “The investment in schools and social care exceeds the levels set by ministers as expectations.”

Chief executive Colin Everett said ‘excellent progress’ had been made in drafting the proposals.

Councillors will meet on March 1 to vote on whether to pass the budget.

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