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Aberdeen residents face 3% council tax hike

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Aberdeen residents will be hit with a 3% increase on their council tax bills under proposals to generate £3million.

City council leaders have unveiled plans to increase the bill for the first time in 11 years.

They insist the proposal has not been “taken lightly” but need to come up with a way to meet their funding commitments of more than £20million while attempting to protect services.

The administration – made up of Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent councillors – will put forward the plan at the budget meeting on March 6.

Local authorities were given the option to increase the levy for the first time last year, but Aberdeen City Council decided not to.

But last night authority leaders said declining block grants from Holyrood left them with “no choice” but to up the fees.

Aberdeenshire Council has also announced a 3% rise.

The council is driving through a massive shake up which they hope will save around £125million over the next five years.

Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “We have not taken this decision lightly, however faced with a record level cut to our budget from the SNP Government we have a hard choice – cuts to frontline services or an increase in tax.”

Co-leader Jenny Laing added: “SNP austerity has meant that to fully fund frontline services we must increase council tax by 3%.

“Aberdeen citizens contribute vast amounts of tax to the Scottish Government yet Aberdeen remains the lowest funded council in Scotland.”

Last night, Councillor Ian Yuill, leader of the opposition Lib Dem group, admitted it would be a challenge for some households but said he understood the thinking behind the administration’s proposal.

He added: “I have massive sympathy for people who maybe struggle to pay the council tax and will see it rise.

“But Aberdeen is the worst funded council in Scotland, and essential services do need to be paid for.”

SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said: “I think people will be happy to pay a little more if it means better services – the question is whether the suspended Labour nine and their Tory lap-dogs will deliver any improvements after five years of mediocrity.

“I’m sure the irony of an administration blaming others for a council tax increase when they have managed to splurge millions on project overspends won’t be lost on the people of Aberdeen.”

A spokesman for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Aberdeen City Council will receive over £354million in 2018-19 – £3.9 million more than in 2017-18, which includes an additional £8.7million from the 85% funding floor introduced by the Scottish Government.”

What do the public think?

“I think it’s a bad idea. I have to pay enough as it is.”

William Robertson, 47, council worker, Seaton

“It all depends on the services. If they spend it on making them better then it will be okay.”

Iain Cuthbert, 49, primary school teacher, Kittybrewster

“I think they have tried to hold off for some time but an increase is about due and they can put it to good use.”

Theresa McKeown, 36, retail manager, city centre

“My last council tax bill was extortionate. It’s ridiculous they’re thinking of putting it up further.”

Charlotte Tustin, 23, student nurse, city centre

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