Leader insists no major services will be cut in Budget
PUBLISHED: 18:55 10 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:26 23 August 2010
REJUVENATION and regeneration was the theme behind the council s latest budget with the leader insisting there will be no cuts to frontline services this year, writes Joe Shackley. Gravesham Borough Council leader Mike Snelling announced the 2009 financi
REJUVENATION and regeneration was the theme behind the council's latest budget with the leader insisting there will be no cuts to frontline services this year, writes Joe Shackley.
Gravesham Borough Council leader Mike Snelling announced the 2009 financial plan last Friday and revealed good news for council tax payers with more than £800,000 set to be saved through "increased efficiency".
A number of the area's biggest free events such as the Big Day Out, the annual fireworks, the Christmas lights switch on and the new St George's day parade are all to go ahead as planned, while some are due to be improved.
As well as this £50,000 has been earmarked for youth projects in the borough and £55,000 set aside for concessionary travel fare schemes for the over 60s.
Mr Snelling, who announced that none of the council's 574 employees would be made redundant, said: "This is a budget for youth, a budget for our future. Through rigorous financial management we have managed to produce a balanced budget in straightened circumstances. We have done this while protecting frontline services and enhancing events people enjoy so much. Big Day Out is being considerably enhanced and we hope it will develop this year into a week-long festival.
"The credit crunch will hit the council and has already begun to lessen income and hence the need to replenish the severely depleted reserves for the rainy days which are forecast."
The reserves have been given a £300,000 boost with the pot now standing at £1.3 million, and set to rise to £1.5 million next year.
Another £40,000 has been made available for capital schemes, and Kent County Council has reserved the same amount of money which can be bid for by community groups and awarded to smaller projects.
The average council tax payment for Band D properties will rise by £7.55 to £161.03 for the year - an increase of 2p per day.
Mr Snelling also revealed that the council faces testing times in the coming years with a £22 million shortfall for maintaining the borough's council houses.
He added: "By 2012/13 we are going to have to take out another £2.2 million from the budget, but we will put together a plan for that and it will have to be something quite radical.