Bath and North East Somerset Council is expecting to be left with a whopping £1.7 million budget surplus by the end of the current financial year, figures uncovered by Conservatives have revealed.
This means it is now the second year in a row that the Liberal Democrat-run authority has collected more money in Council Tax than it had planned to spend on services.
The £1.7 million figure equates to approximately 2.5% on residents’ Council Tax bills, or nearly all the budget cuts the Council has implemented in Children’s Centres, public toilets and Citizen’s Advice services put together.
Because the Council has collected more money in Council Tax this year than expected, it is also increasing the amount it expects to raise next year by £1.5 million – meaning that altogether B&NES has £3.2 million more in the coming year than it had been expecting.
Opposition Conservative Councillors have said that the huge and unexpected budget surpluses show that the Lib Dem-run Council has failed to budget properly – meaning the Council has taken more money from residents, or cut services more deeply, than it had needed to.
Conservative Shadow Resources Spokesman, Councillor Charles Gerrish, said:
“On the face of it, a budget surplus sounds like a good thing. However, the size of this surplus, its unexpected nature and the fact this has happened two years in a row means that the Council is either cutting services more deeply than necessary or taking more Council Tax off residents than they needed to.”
Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tim Warren added:
“It’s vital this additional money is used prudently and we will be interested to see what the Council proposes to do with it.
“What the Lib Dems absolutely shouldn’t be doing is hoarding this money for their own pet projects, when the money could either be used to better protect local services, invested in our communities or handed back to residents as a Council Tax rebate, as some other Councils have done.”