COUNCIL tax bills in North Yorkshire could rise for the first time in four years if budget plans are approved with children’s centres under threat and some libraries and recycling centres possibly facing closure.
Conservative-controlled North Yorkshire County Council is proposing a 1.99 per cent increase for 2014/15, which would bring £4.6 million into its coffers as it is faced with saving £77 million between 2015 and 2019.
The Government would offer the council a grant if it freezes bills, but this would only raise £2.3 million. Councils must hold a referendum if they want to increase council tax above a certain level, currently expected to be two per cent, although the trigger-point may fall.
Other proposals going before the council’s executive next Tuesday include reviewing its library service, and some libraries which are not taken over by communities could close.
Some children’s centres are also likely to shut, although frontline work would be protected, and closing some household waste recycling centres is also possible, although ways of generating more income from them or transferring sites to commercial operators will be considered.
The council said there would be a significant reduction in jobs, but more money would be invested in extra-care housing and the Superfast North Yorkshire broadband programme, while £5 million will be spent on road repairs. About £20 million of cuts will be made in 2014/15.
Chief executive Richard Flinton said: “The scale of the reduction is unprecedented in the life of the county council, and while savings to date have largely protected the frontline, the next stage will require radically different ways of working.”
Ryedale District Council is set to propose freezing council tax but will need to find £401,000 to balance its 2014/15 budget. It expects to save £170,000 in efficiencies and raise £119,000 through new green waste collection charges.
The council’s capital programme has assumed £400,000 will come from the sale of Norton Bowls Club and £320,000 from a Kirkbymoorside property sale, but extra funding may need to be found if the sales hit snags.
Expenditure will include the final cost of the A64 Brambling Fields junction improvements, predicted to be £350,000 over budget, meaning the council will hope for more contributions from developers.