County council to set new budget for Devon

DEVON County Council's Executive is expected to recommend a new budget for stability and for the local economy at a meeting tomorrow, (Tuesday). Despite uncertainties surrounding the economic downturn, the county council's finances remain in a robust and

DEVON County Council's Executive is expected to recommend a new budget for stability and for the local economy at a meeting tomorrow, (Tuesday).Despite uncertainties surrounding the economic downturn, the county council's finances remain in a robust and stable position, according to Leader Brian Greenslade.The local economy will be a high priority, with the council targeting an additional �5.75 million for economic regeneration, as well as keeping the large capital programme for schools and roads intact.Council Tax is expected to be squeezed hard with an increase substantially below 5 per cent. The Executive Committee will be asked to recommend the proposed budget to the council's Full Council when it meets on February 19.The county council, which is responsible for providing more than 85 per cent of the county's local government services, proposes to invest �506,021 million in services this year.The proposed level of Council Tax needed to fund this investment will be announced at tomorrow's meeting. Cllr Greenslade, said: "The current financial climate means that all authorities are looking extremely hard at their budgets this year, but I am pleased to say that Devon County Council's finances remain in a robust and stable position, through prudent fiscal management and the fact that we did not invest in Iceland."Because we are in this strong position, we have been able to invest considerably in helping Devon's local economy in these difficult times. "An additional �5.75 million has been invested in economic regeneration and measures to supplement the �185 million capital investment programme in schools and roads will continue."Front line services for local communities will receive significant investment, but we will need to continue to make savings in administrative and support services."But Cllr Greenslade said that budget for Devon's schools remained a challenge. Devon County Council ranks 146th out of 149 Local Education Authorities in terms of how much grant it receives from the Government."Once again, the Government has left Devon with an unfair level of grant," he said. "This year Devon will receive �40 per person less than the average for similar two-tier shire counties, which amounts to �30 million less funding for public services across the county."Cllr Greenslade said that the council would continue to lobby the Government for fairer funding for Devon's schools, but in the meantime had to provide additional funding to schools to support young people with special educational needs, and special schoolsOver the past three years the council has cut costs through efficiencies by �37.6 million. In the coming year, it hopes to achieve further savings of more than �20 million.The council will also use its budget to continue its drive to make Devon England's greenest county. "I would like to thank everyone who has participated in helping the council put forward its budget this year," added Cllr Greenslade."We have consulted with representatives of older people and voluntary sector, the business community, Trade Unions, and the general public, to identify investment priorities for the county."Devon County Council currently provides more than 85 per cent of Devon's local government services including schools, roads, care services, libraries, family centres, recycling centres, street lights, public transport, consumer protection and environment services, for over 750,000 people in Devon.


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