Council tax frozen and 2014-15 budget set

Scottish Borders Council’s 2014-15 budget has been set and for the seventh year in a row council tax has been frozen.

But council leader David Parker is warning that council tax will not be ‘fit-for-purpose’ soon, another three years at the same level is expected, and that the way local authorities are funded in the future is going to have to be addressed.

If council tax had risen with inflation Band D in the Borders would be £239 higher than it is now.

After the budgets had been passed, Mr Parker, said: “Local authorities across the country have had to look closely at how they operate while finances remain tight and I’m confident the long term plans we’re putting in place will stand this council in good stead.”

Depute leader John Mitchell added: “This has not been an easy budget - it never is to balance the books - and we have tried to spread efficiencies and savings across the council.”

Opposition amendments to scrap a 10p rise in school meals and review the waste management strategy were defeated.

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne said of the school meals rise: “Whilst the rise in price may seem very small, if you have a number of children that will add up to quite a lot over a week.”

Public consultation took, including a new online budget simulator tool, giving people the chance to lay out their own spending priorities and see how their choices would affect services provided by the council. The data was analysed and used to help shape the budget plans.

£271 million is allocated for the 10-year capital programme starting in 2014/15 - an increase of £80 million - with additional investment in roads, schools, flood protection, community infrastructure, IT and regeneration projects. The revenue budget for 2014/15 is £252 million (£1.26 billion over five years).