AN increase in the city's share of the council tax has been confirmed, after the latest budget was approved. 

The opposition Conservatives complimented the Labour-Liberal Democrat-Independent coalition leading Salisbury City Council on its draft of the budget for the upcoming 2024/2025 fiscal year.

Everyone on the council agreed that economic conditions remain difficult, with councils across the country feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis and many declaring bankruptcy.

Labour councillor Ian Tomes, who is part of the leadership group on the council, said: "I think this budget in a very difficult time is a good budget."

Conservative Councillor Jeremy Nettle congratulated the leadership on its budget, but said it still lacked “vision” for the future.

Cllr Nettle added: "It lacks some sort of vision for a future given the investments we've made in our depots, in our parks, etc., etc.

"We can't keep charging our residents over and over again. We need to look at other ways of bringing in income.

"Good effort, but could do better."

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Many members of the opposition said they were disappointed to see a precept rise above inflation.

The precept is set to rise by 8.66 per cent (£29 per year) for a Band D property.

Councillor Charles McGrath said: "I still don't think we can justify an above-inflation precept increase."

Councillor Victoria Charleston said the proposal was a balanced budget formulated with input from residents submitted during multiple public forums.

The new council budget for 2024/2025 includes more than £8.1m of income and the same amount in expenditure, with more than £5.6m of revenue coming from the precept.

The budget is balanced in such a way as to leave the city with exactly the same closing balance as the year before at £2,047,770.

Cllr Charleston said: "One of the key issues that came out of our focus groups was the conditions of pavements."

In response, Cllr Charleston said the budget would prioritise things such as weed removal and other services needed to maintain pavements.

The new budget includes £120k for tree surgery, £110k for repairs and maintenance within the environmental department, £70k for cleaning contract and staffing, £30k for floral displays and maintenance and £30k for street weeding.

In response to Cllr Nettle’s “could do better” comment, Councillor Paul Sample said the opposition did not engage enough with the leadership to submit their input.

Cllr Sample, who had opposed the budget last year due to its lack of funding for the arts, said he was happy to see the turnaround on the issue and support the proposed budget.

Cllr Sample said: "For every pound we spend in the arts we get about ten pounds back into the community.

"If you invest in the arts, then other people invest in the arts.

"Here it is, in black and white this year, so I am supporting it because of that."

Councillor Sven Hocking, who was ultimately the only member to vote against the budget, said multiple circumstances led to the opposition not putting forth an alternative budget this year.

Cllr Hocking said: "Next budget setting, I can assure you, we absolutely will.

"Rest assured in the next budget, I'll be back."