HEREFORDSHIRE Council has scrapped a five per cent increase in council tax after calls from hundreds of residents.
The authority confirmed it has opted against the move which would have triggered a referendum for the increase to be introduced from April.
Instead the council will raise council tax by 1.9 per cent and make changes to the discount scheme which will see working age claimants paying more of their bills.
The announcements come on the back of more than 700 responses to the public consultation on the council’s budget proposals for the 2014/2015 financial year as well as the authority’s medium term financial plan.
The council has declared it has to make savings of £33million in the next three years which has prompted an overhaul of the services it provides.
This year £15.4million worth of savings have been identified but an extra £700,000 would have to be found without raising the council tax by nearly two per cent.
From April 2015 library services will be under threat to help reduce further costs and the council has vowed to continue cutting internal overheads despite already making 300 redundancies in the last two years.
A further move which made it mandatory for all staff to take two days unpaid leave over Christmas has already been implemented a saving of almoat £250,000.
Despite the financial challenges, the council has reiterated its commitment to maintaining the county’s roads by setting aside an additional £20million in the proposed budget for further improvements.
Market day services and public health investments are set to be protected while the need for more housing and affordable homes in particular have also been prioritised.
The council will review services for vulnerable residents to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently on those which have proved to be effective.
Coun Tony Johnson, leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “It is well known we are facing significant reductions in our Government funding and yet it is imperative that we still deliver our priorities of keeping children and young people safe and giving them the best start in life, enabling residents to live safe, healthy and independent lives and investing in projects to improve roads, create jobs and build more homes.
“In order to meet our priorities, we need to continue encouraging individuals, communities and organisations to do more for themselves and their local areas, reducing the costs and level of services provided and ensuring that the services we do provide are well delivered and cost effective.”
The proposals will be discussed by the full council on Friday, February 7.