Residents will be paying an extra 2.98 per cent in council tax after a £133 million budget was approved – with the leader dismissing claims austerity is over.
The 2019-20 medium-term financial plan, revenue budget and capital programme was passed following cross-party support during the full council meeting on Monday.
Town Hall chiefs say £45 million of savings will need to be made over the next four years to balance the budget – with £22.2 million of savings identified over 2019-20.
The £132.99 million budget is expected to lead to a reduction of up to 100 posts.
But the Labour-run authority says the deletion of vacant posts and approval of voluntary redundancies should keep the need for compulsory redundancies ‘to a minimum’.
The 2.98 per cent tax increase will see the borough council sum rise to £1,436.15 for Band D residents on average, which amounts to just under an extra 80p a week.
But after taking into account the tax requirement of the borough council, parish councils, Cheshire police and crime commissioner and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service rate, the average council tax bill for Band D bill residents for the coming year will total £1,747.24.
Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) highlighted the importance of the authority’s property deals – including the controversial decision to buy Birchwood Park for £211 million.
Commercial properties are being bought in an attempt to offset the impact of cuts in Government funding.
Cllr Bowden said: “Anybody who tells you austerity is over is either lying or kidding themselves.
“Councils are not being properly funded for the job they are being asked to do.
“As in previous years, officers and members have worked incredibly hard to try and drive as much income and revenue to the council as possible through the enterprise programme.
“I think next year is a significant challenge for us as a local authority – we can’t just keep borrowing money and try to drive income through that route.
“I think we have a real job of work to finish off the business transformation that we need through the outcome-based budget approach and certainly we will be getting to work on that after this budget.”
Former council leader Cllr Ian Marks, who spoke on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, highlighted fears over Brexit.
The Lymm North and Thelwall councillor said: “The utter shambles of Brexit is having a profound effect on the economy and, indeed, this council’s budget.
“Austerity is apparently over says the Prime Minister but I have to say you can’t believe a word she says these days.”