By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A potential gap of nearly £2m within the budget of a Kent County Council department is expected to be filled from council tax.
Council tax rises across County Hall’s 12 districts are expected to recoup a total of £4.2million, which is £1million more than originally expected and will help to plug the feared £1.9m overspend for KCC’s policy and resources committee.
Concerns remain over the unsecured financial grants from the Government, which funds a large portion of KCC services, and anxious county councillors voiced their views during a public meeting in Maidstone County Hall yesterday.
Deputy cabinet member Matthew Balfour (Con), who spoke during a council meeting at Maidstone County Hall, said: “As ever we are still awaiting a Government announcement as to what they may allow for us this year, which always brings trepidation.”
KCC’s head of finance, Dave Shipton, said the council is yet to be made aware of the level of funding it will receive in Chancellor Sajid Javid’s spending review, although a date has not been confirmed.
Mr Shipton said it was unlikely to happen prior to KCC’s cabinet meeting on January 27, where the 10 members will make a key decision on the budget before a full vote is held by full council on February 14.
Cllr Nick Chard (Con), who formerly stood as a leadership contender for KCC’s top job in October, pointed out that funding for key initiatives within the department, such as £28m school building modernisation programmes, are not yet ring-fenced.
He said: “And if they are not secured, what exactly are we agreeing when it comes to the budget.”
However Mr Shipton told the Sevenoaks member that it was likely to be granted by the Government. Other main spending pressures include a £600,000 investment towards the conversion of Oakwood House from a hotel and conference centre to a coroners office.
No major changes are expected around the budget before KCC’s cabinet meets at Maidstone County Hall in five days’ time.