A DISTRICT council has recommended its members agree to a rise in council tax of 1.5 per cent, a year on from a three per cent rise.

Councillors at Richmondshire District Council’s strategy board were split on the recommendation, which would see Band D households paying a yearly increase of £2.90 – working out at 5.5p per week – but finance officers said there would be tough times ahead in year 2014 to 2015 with significant reductions in funding.

Chief finance officer Sian Hansom said the 1.5 per cent increase would see funds being put straight into reserve funds.

She said: “Overall we will be getting a 7.45 per cent reduction in funding from the government in 2014 to 2015.

“I’m satisfied with the estimates provided but I want to draw attention to the fact that next year we are looking at a significant reduction – so I recommend we try to balance the budget this year because we need to make sure the money is there.”

Deputy leader of the council Coun Mick Griffiths said he was please with the way savings had been made despite the break-up of the Shared Services scheme between Richmondshire and Hambleton District Councils last year.

He said: “This council has been prudent in its approach so it has retained all the savings it had when it was part of Shared Services.

“Currently we have more than £100,000 of savings but we are not at the end of the journey.”

But Coun Fleur Butler, leader of the Conservatives, said: “I still regret the loss of the partnership with Hambleton District Council, and although we are looking at other ways of saving it is still a loss to the district.”

Coun Russell Lord added: “It goes against the grain for me to accept anything other than a naught per cent increase but I know if we don’t do anything now in a few years it will really hike up a community tax.

“I want the increase to be shown at how much it is in real terms at 5.5p per week.”

Six councillors voted in favour of the recommendation and five councillors abstained from voting, ahead of a debate at the full council meeting later this month.