Residents in Northumberland look set to be hit with a council tax rise of just under 2%.
Northumberland County Council is proposing to increase council tax by 1.99% as part of its budget for 2014/15, which includes proposed savings of £32.5m this year and £130m over the four years up to 2018.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat opponents have criticised the proposal, claiming residents will not get anything extra for their money.
However, Labour bosses say the hike is necessary to help them cover their spending priorities, and at below the level of inflation, also “reasonable.”
The proposed rise comes on the back of the authority having frozen council tax the last three years, with it offered Government funding to do so.
A report to a meeting of the council’s policy board tomorrow says that “in view of the scale of cuts imposed by the Government and the significant resultant savings the council must achieve, freezing the council tax again is considered financially unsustainable.”
It adds: “The process by which councils are actively encouraged to freeze council tax whilst at the same time being required to cope with major reductions in grant funding has stored up both financial and operational pressures for future years.”
The 1.99% increase is proposed with the Government having stated that any council wishing to increase council tax beyond 2% will require a referendum.
Yet Coun Peter Jackson, leader of the Tories, said: “The taxpayers in Northumberland are going to get a higher charge and we can see they are not going to get anything extra for their money. We can see no reason why council tax should go up as soon as we have got this independent Labour administration.”
Lib Dem leader Jeff Reid added: “They are having to put the council tax up for everybody to pay for a car parking for a few.
“They made these promises about car parking charges and they have realised they can not afford to do it.”
Labour bosses say the hike is necessary to help them deliver 2,000 affordable homes in five years, free parking across the county, customer service centres in all its main towns and an increase in a community fund with an extra £80,000 per year for charities and groups.
They also say the rise will help them safeguard jobs within the authority.
A source said: “We think local people will see a below inflation rise in council tax as reasonable.”