Council tax to rise as fire brigade asks for extra cash

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COUNCIL tax will be increased by 2p in County Durham as fire brigade chiefs say the money is need to protect front line services.

Members of the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority met on Thursday, February 12, to agree the 2015/16 budget and council tax levels, unanimously agreeing on a 1.95 per cent rise from April 1.

The amount of funding the Authority receives from central government is set to reduce by £1.3m in 2015/16.

Councillor Michele Hodgson, chairman of the Authority, said: “Members of the Authority carefully considered all of the options before agreeing how this budget would be set for the coming year. Finding savings year-on-year is increasingly difficult especially given that our service is one of the most efficient in the country.”

She added: “The Authority recognised the increasing pressure on household budgets but felt that an additional 2p per week is crucial to maintaining an effective and vital emergency service. The Authority will continue to monitor the Service Transformation Programme to ensure all options to deliver cash efficiencies are explored.”

The Fire Authority budget was set at £28.618m, which represents a 2.5 per cent reduction from the current level and the 2p increase will generate £100,000 per year of additional funding for the services.

With the majority of properties in County Durham and Darlington being in council tax bands A and D, the increase amounts to £1.80 per year for a property in council tax Band D or £1.20 per year for a property in council tax Band A.