A 1.99 per cent increase in council tax has been agreed by the Isle of Wight Council tonight (Wednesday).
The rise, which is in addition to a 1.99 per cent increase in the police precept and any rises in town or parish council precepts, will raise an additional £521,000, despite meaning the council will miss out on the government's council tax freeze incentive.
It means the Isle of Wight Council element of council tax for a typical band D property will increase by £25.67 to £1,315.47 a year.
It comes in the light of the need to save £28 million over the next three years due to government funding cuts. The council has already announced that 360 jobs
are set to go over the same period.
Council leader Cllr Ian Stephens said: "The process of developing the council’s budget for 2014-2015 and the two ensuing years has been an incredibly difficult task; set against a backdrop of finding £28 million of savings, and the effects this may have on the lives of Island residents.
"There has been much soul-searching as we have attempted to minimise the effect of these savings on Island residents, while endeavouring to fulfil our legal obligation of setting a balanced budget. Wherever possible and achievable we have also sought to develop initiatives and to access funds to both protect and stimulate the Island’s economy.
"We have listened to views across the chamber and taken comments and ideas on board as we have developed the budget.
"Throughout this process of developing the council’s priorities, we have also gone out into the community and listened to what people have had to say. This has included engagement through roadshows, surveys and discussions with residents, town and parish councils, businesses and partner organisations.
"We have also undertaken detailed root and branch reviews of council services to ensure we are making the very best use of our resources for the benefit of the Isle of Wight.
"Arising out of the measures agreed tonight, a steering group will be undertaking a continuous process of monitoring the achievement of the 2014-2015 budget savings and developing savings for 2015-2016 and future years and ensuring this is done in an open and transparent way."
Budget measures agreed tonight included:
• Pre-apprenticeships and business support for older people.
• To allocate £150,000 next year to schemes supporting young people into pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships and supporting people over 50 to start up their own businesses.
• Assisted Area Status - To continue to promote the case for the inclusion of the whole Island in Assisted Area Status designation (status has been currently secured for 28 of the Island’s 38 wards).
• Children’s services - To provide an additional £2.25 million for children’s services.
• Residents’ parking permit - To introduce an Islandwide residents’ parking permit from 1 April 2014.
• Business expansion fund - To continue to promote the Isle of Wight Expansion Fund, launched in January 2014, making £2.46 million of grant funds available to Island-based businesses.
• Tidal energy - To match £1 million of private sector investment to create Perpetuus Tidal Energy Centre Ltd, a joint venture company to develop a tidal energy test facility off St Catherine’s Point.
• Superfast broadband - The council has already committed £3 million to the installation of superfast broadband, ensuring the Island will be one of the best connected areas in the country.
• Tourism - Committed investment of £340,000 a year to Visit Isle of Wight.
The council also agreed to cut spending and raise income in several services:
• Fees for leisure, recreation and public spaces to be increased from 2014/2015.
• Working with town and parish councils to develop policies and strategies for services the Isle of Wight Council can no longer afford to deliver.
• Savings through management restructures, process reviews and combining council functions.
• Potential savings from combining or collaborating with another fire and rescue service from 2016/2017.
Proposals to implement charges for pedestrians on the Cowes floating bridge were deferred for at least a year pending further consultation and investigation into the viability of such charges.
School crossing staff will be retained, along with beach safety equipment.
Savings related to the Lord Lieutenant’s office will not proceed at this stage, but be dealt with in as part of an overall review of support services.