COUNCIL tax will be raised across the county by 3.95 per cent from April this year.

When discussing the budget for the next financial year, it was expected that council tax would be raised by 4.95 per cent, the maximum amount allowed.

However, an increased settlement from the Welsh Government last autumn means that the council will be increasing residents’ council tax bills by a lower than expected amount.

The decision, which was made last Thursday (21st January) when Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) set their budget for the year, was approved despite some concern from councillors.

While the smaller rise of council tax will mean a saving to residents of £433,000, MCC will be asking town councils to pay a total of £400,000.

Independent councillor for Magor and Undy, Francesca Taylor, suggested that the original 4.95 per cent increase in council tax, approximately a difference of £10 per year per household on the decided figure, would allow the council to “make extra choices.”

“In terms of what that means for a household we are talking a difference of £10.95 a year.”

Cllr Taylor continued: “I’m not an advocator of increasing costs, there’s a balance to be struck here.

“Quite clearly if we chose a 4.95 per cent we’d be in a position to make extra choices.”

Despite support from opposition councillors, Cllr Taylor’s amendment was not passed. 21 councillors rejected the amendment, while six were in favour.

MCC’s deputy leader Cllr Bob Greenland said: “People do want to see local services close but not at a cost they can’t afford. Elderly people who are on fixed budgets are saying ‘is there going to be an end to this?’”

MCC officials visited town councils last year in a series of consultations, ultimately asking local councils to contribute £500,000 to keep services such as street sweeping and public toilets running. The figure has since been reduced to £400,000.

Cllr Roger Hoggins argued that there would be no benefit in asking town councils to pay an increased amount. “My point has been reiterated so many times but I’m not going to apologise for doing it. We’re setting it at 3.95 per cent so that means that we won’t be charging the council tax payers out there an extra 433 thousand pounds but we are going to ask town councils for.

“Where is that coming from if that is not taxation? What is the point in having an increase when you’re going to ask the same from the towns? The towns will be affected more than the rural wards.”

Labour leader at MCC, Cllr Dimitri Batrouni was also concerned. “Older people on fixed income will struggle. On budget consultation we can’t see how demographic is broken down.”

The increase of 3.95 per cent was approved, meaning that Monmouthshire residents have seen rises of 3.95 per cent twice and 4.95 per cent for the past three years.

The average rise across the board of bands A to I is £68.81 per household.