Dundee City Council’s Liberal Democrat group say council tax in the city need only rise by 1% – almost five times less that the 4.75% proposed by the ruling SNP administration.
The claim comes before Thursday afternoon’s budget-crunch session of the policy and resources committee.
Opposition blocs there will challenge spending and cuts drawn-up by SNP council leader, John Alexander, and his team.
A number of proposals in this have already prompted strong challenges, including the axing of subsidies for five city-wide bus routes and an end to funding for Big Noise Douglas, a highly-valued music tuition program.
The SNP group has been left with hard choices following the Scottish Government’s December budget settlement for councils.
With leaders of Scotland’s 31 other councils, Mr Alexander has continued to lobby for more money.
He’s previously said party politics is “irrelevant” under current economic conditions.
Liberal Democrat and Labour groups are offering alternative budgets which, they say, better fit the current cost-of-living emergency declared by the local authority last year.
West End Liberal Democrat councillor Michael Crichton said, “We think the SNP’s proposed increase of 4.75% is completely unacceptable at a time when wages are not keeping pace with inflation, energy bills are soaring, food prices are going through the roof and the cost-of-living generally is at an all time high.
“We have listened carefully to the issues our constituents about cost-of-living and feel our approach gives the people of Dundee proposals that are both fair and deliverable.”
‘Keep increase low’
Mr Crichton continued: “Instead of just adding to that cost-of-living crisis by hiking council tax by nearly 5% under the SNP, we feel the council should try its best to keep the council tax increase as low as possible this year through efficiency savings and use of balances,
“Liberal Democrats can keep the Dundee budget increase to just 1% – without doubt the lowest increase in a very long time,” he claimed.
‘Huge increase in street cleaning’
His group colleague, Strathmartine councillor, Daniel Coleman added: “Even with a very low council tax increase that we are proposing for 2023/24, Liberal Democrats can still look to fund a huge increase in the street cleaning staff of some 39 posts and also create new posts in forestry and animal control and add to the community safety warden and countryside ranger staff resource.
‘Stop brown bin charge hike’
He continued: “We are also proposing an additional £2 million next year for roads resurfacing, £1m on pavement resurfacing, saving local bus services from the SNP axe, and improvements to the city centre and district shopping areas,
“We will try to stop the SNP proposal to hike the brown bin charge yet again – to £45 from 2024 – and would seek to cut it to £35 to support the recycling effort in Dundee.
“We also aim to oppose the SNP’s increase in the bulky uplifts charge and would aim to cut the SNP proposed charge by £9 per collection.