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St Albans council budget: Tax freeze agreed
A freeze on council tax has finally been confirmed after politicians agreed on a budget last night following months of debates and disagreements.
The budget approved by the full council last month, which was originally rejected by the leader of the council Julian Daly, was passed with further amendments at a meeting last night (Tuesday).
Councillor Daly: "It is good that we’ve got a budget in place.
"It is a zero increase for residents. We are all feeling the pressure on the purses.
"It is important that the council keeps increases at zero for as long as possible."
At a full council meeting on January 30 opposition politicians put forward several amendments to the Conservative’s budget that were agreed in principle.
However Councillor Daly did not pass the budget and resubmitted it for further discussion with further amendments.
These included borrowing £600,000 to reconfigure the council officers so that part of it can be rented out.
After further discussion at a meeting at the council offices in St Peters Street, 36 councillors voted for the budget compared to 19 against who voted against.
Under the new budget council housing tenants will face a 3.1 per cent rent rise.
However this increase is lower than the 5.2 per cent originally put forward by the Conservatives, which was lowered following a suggested amendment by the Labour party.
Other amendments that have been incorporated into the new budget following last month’s meeting included spending more money improving the environment and introducing apprenticeship schemes.
Before the meeting Councillor Martin Leach, leader of the district’s Labour party, said: "This budget is not perfect, but it is fairer now."
Councillor Jacob Quagliozzi said: "This district needs a budget.
"This is a hung council so there needs to be give and take."
However Liberal Democrat councillors expressed their disapproval for the new changes, stating that they were not needed.
Councillor Robert Donald, the leader of the party, said: "At best they are just not necessary and at worse they are more political window dressing.
"They relieve and justify his decision to refer the decision back to council."