CARMARTHENSHIRE residents are to be hit by an ‘Inflation Busting Tax Rise’ during Pandemic if the Plaid Cymru led council’s recommendation is approved according to the opposition leader Cllr Rob James.
It comes at a time when the council also plan to build a 140 bed hotel at Machynys in Llanelli and the closure of small village schools. For the tax year 2020 the councillors salaries and travelling expenses combined came to a whopping Basic Salary: £612,979.38 and a Senior Salary: £376,982.73 with Travelling: £3,193.20.
As part of their Council budget consultation for the upcoming year, the Plaid Cymru-led administration is seeking to increase Council tax by almost £60 a year hitting families that are already suffering as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic claims Cllr James.
During the recent Executive Board discussions on the budget, the Plaid Cymru Council Leader reduced the proposed increase from 4.89% to 4.48%. Opposition Leader Cllr James referred to this action as “just playing lip service” and “a slap in the face” for local residents.
The proposed gross expenditure on the capital programme for 2021/22 is £127.1m with the projected funding being £63.854m from the county council’s own resources through the use of borrowing, capital receipts, reserves and general capital grant. Carmarthenshire Labour Leader is calling on the Plaid Cymru Executive Board to utilise the Council’s reserves and pushing back some of the “nice to have” capital projects a year to support local residents.
Recent figures have shown that the Welsh Labour Government have provided in excess of £18 million to support Carmarthenshire Council with related costs to tackling Coronavirus and loss of income during the pandemic.
Cllr Rob James, Carmarthenshire Labour Leader stated “Hitting hard pressed families during a pandemic with an inflation busting tax rise is a terrible decision by Plaid Cymru Councillors.
“We already know that the Welsh Labour Government has provided this Council with more than £18 million, covering 96% of all Covid-related costs, and that the Council has saved money with the long closure of Council services.
“This is a once in a century event and we should be making every effort to actually supporting our residents. We need to be utilising the millions of Council reserves, esp capital reserve funding, as well as pushing back our non-essential and nice to have projects back a year to support Carmarthenshire households. Simply reducing the tax increase by a meagre half a percent today is a slap in the face for residents and merely paying lip service to the concerns of residents.
“We will be campaigning with every fibre of our being to get this disgraceful inflation busting tax rise proposed by Plaid Cymru Councillors thrown out.”
“I welcome this additional funding from the Welsh Labour Government that builds upon the support already provided to Carmarthenshire businesses and direct support to our communities.
“The level of support that has been provided during the pandemic has been unprecedented.
“This has been an extremely difficult period for our communities and every effort is going in to ensuring that people remain safe and that families are supported. As the County Council debate next years budget in the coming weeks, we must look internally and ask whether the Council can be doing more to support local residents.
“Personally, I believe we should be doing more. Raising town centre car parking charges during a pandemic, where local businesses are struggling, is just one example of this Plaid Cymru Council’s lack of empathy for local communities. We must ensure no stone is left unturned when identifying measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.”
A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said:
“Despite the devastating financial impact of Covid on the council’s income and expenditure, the Plaid-led Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board agreed this morning to cut the proposed council tax rise for the coming year from just under 4.9% to less than 4.5%. In proposing the 0.4% cut to the levy rise put forward by senior officers, Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole recognised that maintaining services and ensuring the care and support needed by individuals and communities had been a formidable task for officers. He thanked them for their professionalism and hard work.”
“For reasons of prudence and fiscal responsibility they’d proposed a council tax levy of 4.89%,” said Cllr Dole. “But given the circumstance around COVID 19 and the way so many in our county have been affected, the Executive Board agreed to re-set the council tax at 4.48%.” He added that in so many difficult and often tragic ways the people of Carmarthenshire have already paid a huge price.
“They’ve shown resilience, bravery and fortitude, as well as willingness to look out for each other in so many ways,” said Cllr Dole. “We will always endeavour to the best of our ability to give the people of Carmarthenshire the support they so rightly deserve.”