A tight and tricky budget awaits Devon County Council this year as councillors prepare to establish Council Tax and spending levels set against the backdrop of the credit crunch. The amount of money the council receives from the Government has been provis

A tight and tricky budget awaits Devon County Council this year as councillors prepare to establish Council Tax and spending levels set against the backdrop of the credit crunch.The amount of money the council receives from the Government has been provisionally set at £153 million for the financial year 2009/10, a rise of 5.5 per cent on the previous year.The Leader of the council, Councillor Brian Greenslade, said it would be "a tight budget" and necessary to "balance the protection of services needed by people in the county against forcing down our costs and keeping a tight hand on the level of council tax."The Provisional Schools Grant from the Government for the running, maintenance and improvement of Devon schools has been increased by only three per cent, to £359.3 million, which councillors have said could "put pressure" on some local schools.At a meeting of the county executive committee on Friday, members admitted the council could face some "difficult decisions" in the coming year and beyond.A finance report to the meeting said the settlement was still provisional and there could be some change before it is finalised at the end of January. The council will vote on its budget for the year on February 19.The report also noted Devon received £41 per head of population less than the average allotted to most shire counties."The final budget and level of Council Tax will be set later in February," Mr Greenslade told the Gazette."Things are tough at the moment and the council is not immune from the effects of the credit crunch, with our income being cut as a result."We have to also recognise that public spending levels will be progressively tighter in the years ahead and we shall have to start preparing for lower levels of spending for the future."Mr Greenslade added this was all set against the uncertainty of whether the local government Devon of Devon would be redrawn by the Government this spring, with the creation of a larger unitary authority.