WREXHAM residents’ council tax will increase by six per cent, after an amendment from opposition Labour councillors tabled in an attempt to reduce the rise was withdrawn.
The budget for 2023-24 has been set at a full meeting of Wrexham Council, rubber-stamping the six per cent increase recommended by the Independent / Conservative led Executive Board last month.
This means that council tax on a Band D property will be £1,451.33 for 2023-24.
The leader of the opposition Labour group, Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies did propose an amendment suggesting surplus money from the Clwyd Pension Fund re-evaluation could be used to bring the proposed increase down to four per cent, seconded by Llay Cllr Bryan Apsley.
But the council’s chief finance officer Richard Weigh advised that the money had been earmarked for PAYE, and other pressures already included in the budget.
Cllr Davies withdrew the amendment but said the Labour group would not be supporting the council tax increase.
As a result of the budget set, there will be no cuts to council services or redundancies.
Presenting the proposals at the meeting council leader and lead member for finance, Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind), said: “The proposals presented today help to address the key pressures highlighted throughout the year.
“The scale of the cost pressures are greater than any period across the last decade. Even in very difficult times it is vital to prioritise investment where it is most needed.”
Investment and areas being prioritised within the budget are;
£7m for social care.
An increase of £5.2m for schools.
£1m investment in council plan priorities.
£1m additional funding for highways maintenance and resurfacing.
£200,000 for public transport and bus services, with a further £200,000 for the following year.
£900,000 for other service ‘pressures’ including for homelessness, sheltered accommodation, ICT support and leisure centres.
Cllr Pritchard added: “We have to remember our level of council tax is starting from a lower position than the average in Wales, we know that future years will be more challenging and more difficult.
“This is probably the best budget I’ve presented to this council in a long time. There is investment, growth, it’s safeguarding jobs and no staff will lose their job and that’s very important in these difficult times.”
Tabling the amendment looking to use the pension fund surplus to bring the tax increase down, Cllr Davies said: “The number one worry for our residents at this moment in time is financial security.
“How do they keep a roof over their head, eat, keep themselves warm as well as pay every bill that drops through their letterbox.”
After Cllr Davies’ amendment was withdrawn, deputy leader, Pant and Johnstown Cllr David A Bithell spoke to support the proposed budget, particularly the investment in public transport after the Welsh Government decision not to invest in road projects previously earmarked for Wrexham.
He said: “Bus services are more important now we’re dealing with a situation where we have to invest in public transport due to an announcement made over the last 24 hours.”
Put to a vote of the full council, the budget and council tax increase was passed.