Council tax bills will climb by nearly £37 for the average household in North Somerset, but are still among the lowest in the South West.
The local authority has agreed to increase the amount it charges households by 2.75 per cent in 2019/20, raising the bill for the average resident £1,378.50.
But most people in the area will still be paying the second lowest council tax in the South West, while the poorest continue to suffer, according to one opposition councillor.
North Somerset Council voted through its budget for next financial year on Tuesday, February 19.
It includes £600,000 extra for home-to-school transport, £250,000 for a car parking review, £75,000 more for school improvement and early years attainment, and an extra £20,000 for footpaths, verges and bins.
But “savings” worth a total of £11million are also budgeted for, including £3million from service charge increases and cuts to grants and parish councils, £2.2million cut from the people and communities budget for adults, and £1.9 “saved” from children’s services.
The council also plans to dip into its reserves to the tune of £3million to help balance the books.
Six councillors voted against the budget which was carried by a majority of 30. Five councillors abstained.
Among the dissenters was Green councillor for Congresbury and Puxton Tom Leimdorfer who said residents hardest hit by the cuts would be those suffering already.
“Even at 2.75 per cent, most people in this local authority will be paying the second lowest council tax in the south west,” he said.
“But our poorest 6,000 working age families are actually being asked to pay the highest contribution.
“We are talking about the people on whom these [cuts have] cumulative effects.”
Independent councillor for Pill Donald Davies suggested the council could have raised more cash by putting up council tax up by 2.99 per cent, the highest amount permitted.
Cllr Davies also questioned the administration’s priorities, saying the £250,000 for a car parking review could have been put towards council tax reductions for residents on the lowest incomes.
Liberal Democrat councillor for Weston-super-Mare Central Mike Bell said there should have been more extra funding set aside for children with special education needs and disabilities, affordable housing and the homeless.
Council leader Nigel Ashton said it had been a difficult budget after 10 years of government austerity during which the council had had to make savings of more than £100million.
“However, thanks to sound financial management we are now in a position where we can invest in certain areas where we know it will make a difference.
“We know it’s not enough, but it’s a start.”
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