A £133 million budget including a 2.98 per cent tax rise and reduction of 100 council posts has moved one step closer.

The executive board approved the 2019-20 medium-term financial plan, draft revenue budget and capital programme at its meeting on Monday.

It will now be voted on by full council on February 25.

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.

If passed in two weeks, it is estimated that the budget will lead to a reduction of up to 100 posts.

But the authority says the deletion of vacant posts and approval of voluntary redundancies should keep the need for compulsory redundancies ‘to a minimum’.

It is proposed that council tax is increased by 2.98 per cent in 2019-20, followed by a 1.98 per cent increase for each of the next three years.

Band D residents in the borough have had a £1,394.59 council tax bill in 2018-19 on average.

However, the proposed 2.98 per cent increase will see that rise to £1,436.15, 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 anticipated Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service rate, the proposed average Band D bill for the coming year totals £1,726.

The draft £132.99 million budget also includes plans to cut £167,000 which the council uses to pay for seven PCSOs, as well as plans to generate £1.5 million from loan facilities with registered housing providers, £1 million through a new council energy company and a projected £132,000 from penalty charge notices through bus lane enforcement measures.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden reminded members about the ‘painful journey’ over recent years.

He also hit out at the Government for failing to provide adequate funding to the town before admitting getting the draft budget before the executive board in time went ‘close to the wire’.

“Since 2010, it is some £137 million of cuts and savings that we have made as an authority,” he said.

“That is an eye-watering sum of money in the context of vital services that we need to provide as a council to residents, in particular to some of the most vulnerable in our community.

“I don’t think any of us put ourselves up for elected office with the expectation we were going to have to deliver this kind of agenda, however, despite that, we are doing our absolute utmost to protect frontline services, to protect jobs at this council and to protect vulnerable people.”

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, executive board member for public health and wellbeing, also slammed the Government.

She said: “I think I speak for everyone when I say that this a budget that none of us, when we were elected, would ever have thought we would have to pass.

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“It is not something that gives us any pleasure, it is quite the opposite.

“In 2010, when the coalition Government came in, we were promised five years of austerity.

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“We are now getting to the point that we have nearly had a decade of austerity and local government has been hit harder than any other service.

“We do our best in Warrington to deliver the services that people need and want but it is getting more than increasingly difficult – and it is shameful that we are having to make these decisions.”

Warrington Conservatives have responded after the executive board approved the draft budget.

Deputy chairman Andy Carter says: “Sadly, it’s the same story with Warrington Labour, another hike in council tax plus a further increase in the police and crime commissioner precept – these tax rises will hit hard-working people, the families that Labour claim to be supporting.

“At the same time, the problem of potholes on Warrington’s roads gets worse, despite the Government giving the council extra money to fix them, big leisure projects such as the new pool at the Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub remain unfinished and out of action and the level of debt which we’re all being exposed to through the council’s commercial property deals is ever increasing.

“What we see at the Town Hall time and time again is Warrington Labour’s inability to manage public money efficiently, which means we all end up paying more in tax year after year.”