Council tax to rise by three per cent after budget passes

Council leader Robin Currie said the decision to increase council tax by three per cent was 'taken with some reluctance'.

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Council tax will rise by three per cent in Argyll and Bute in April – but plans for an eight per cent increase in burial and cremation charges has been rejected.

Councillors have also backed plans to spend £300,000 on street lighting, and £100,000 on new litter bins across the area, as part of the authority’s budget for 2022-23.

The budget also includes £17,000 to keep seasonal public toilets open all year round, and £20,000 to suspend off-street parking charges for the two weeks before Christmas.

Staycation funding for the area will also be boosted by a further £100,000, while investment in the area’s roads will rise to £8million, with a further £500,000 allocated to active travel.

An extra £1 million will be used to safeguard and support the council’s learning estate, while climate change projects will receive an extra £500,000.

Although fees and charges will increase across the area by three per cent, a savings option to add a further eight per cent to the cost of burials and cremations was rejected.

The Scottish Government recently removed the three per cent limit on how much local authorities could increase council tax by following a freeze last year. A rebate of £150 will be given to eligible households.

The budget proposed by the area’s ruling group of Conservative, Liberal Democrat and some independent councillors received 20 votes to the SNP opposition group’s 13.

These were the only two proposals put forward at the virtual council meeting on Thursday, February 24. Lomond North independent councillor George Freeman registered no vote.

Kintyre and the Islands Liberal Democrat councillor Robin Currie, the council’s leader, said: ‘The budget rejects the proposal around burial and cremation charges, recognising the burden this increase would place upon grieving families at this time.

‘Where we have had no option but to agree increases, these are at the same levels as previous years. The proposed three per cent increases for fees and charges are also far lower than current inflation rates.

‘It is also important to remember that the council itself will have to manage increased costs and pressures in terms of service delivery.

‘Like many other Scottish councils, we have followed the Scottish Government’s guidance in relation to the three per cent rise in council tax. It is a decision we have considered extremely carefully and taken with some reluctance.

‘In the current climate, this is undoubtedly one of the decisions over which we have deliberated the longest. Ensuring families who need it are still able to receive the support was over the utmost importance.

‘The delivery of the £150 rebate to thousands of households is a key element of this. We can also look carefully at how we distribute our share of the £80 million funding support for people on lower income, announced just a few days ago.’

The budget was the last to be decided by the council before the local government elections take place on Thursday, May 5.

The SNP opposition group on the council also proposed a fund to support tourism businesses in the area in their recovery from the pandemic.