Western Isles councillors voted yesterday for a 3% rise in council tax, becoming one of the first authorities to do so in a decade.
The council is also continuing a previously agreed £3 million programme of cuts and savings.
At yesterday’s budget-setting meeting, the local authority called on the Scottish Government to do more to help fragile island communities after a seventh year of slashed spending.
The council’s £6million budget shortfall will be plugged by £3million of cuts voted through last year, plus £3million of money it has in hand, topped with the council tax rise.
The SNP group of councillors failed to receive support for its motion to retain council tax at present levels.
Councillor Donald Manford said: “Since the original proposal the settlement from the Scottish Government has increased by £1.3million – a four-fold increase, yet a 3% council tax rise is still being proposed to the long suffering public.
“It looks like this council is increasing tax just because it can.”
Councillor Roddie Mackay said it would raise vital income.
“We are still working with the same cash we had 10 years ago – cut by a third in real terms,” he said.
Councillor Angus McCormack said the SNP was displaying “misplaced populism” while the Scottish Government was under-funding the council.
The council said a 3% increase in council tax means the charge for a band D house will rise from £1,024 to £1,055.
Overall, the council expects to draw in £540,000 more through council tax though part of that extra sum is due to a Scottish Government increase in property bands.
The SNP group also failed in its attempts to retain the Hillcrest children’s care home service in Stornoway.
The council had deferred a £350,000 saving by the effective downsizing of the facility in favour of using more foster care which was agreed back in February 2016 on condition councillors would be satisfied by transitional arrangements.
Councillors heard a revamp was being drawn up to “improve” the service with more effective use of staff and looking at building a new modern facility at Sandwick, outside Stornoway.
The building would be retained for a period in case it could be used for other purposes.