Scottish Borders Council is to raise council tax by a further 1%, adding to the previous 3% rise agreed in December.
The rise has been announced as part of the council’s financial budget for 2019/20, and will raise an extra £600,000 a year for the Tory/Independent-led authority. In a motion due to go before councillors on Thursday (February 28), council leader Shona Haslam, who represents Tweeddale East, indicated that the money will be used to accelerate the new Hawick High School project.
She said: “The Conservative and Independent administration has taken the difficult decision to raise council tax to 4% next year.
“This will provide match funding for a new Hawick High School and provide an extra £2.3m investment in our roads and pavements over the next four years.”
The money will be used to leverage a loan of £20m, which will be used to bring the construction of a new high school in Hawick forward, with the intention that a new school will be opened in Hawick within the next five years.
The council has indicated that it must save £29.5m over the next five years, but despite this there are numerous areas of additional spending in the 2019/20 budget.
This includes spending £16m over 10 years to gives every P6 to S6 an Apple iPad; funding a second community action team, comprised of seven police officers; and spending an additional £3m on extra care housing in Hawick, Kelso, Eyemouth and Peebles.
Councillor Haslam’s motion continues: “The council is also constructing the foundations of a more efficient council which can drive ever better outcomes for the people we serve.
“Fit for 2024 is a major new strategy forming a key part of our budget plans to improve wellbeing, drive out inefficiency and to do so on the basis of sustainable development.
“The budget provides the funding for major projects that will regenerate our high streets, create new and high quality jobs and increase the number of tourists coming to the Borders as well as attracting people to come and live and work here.
“This budget is bold, brave and builds the future prosperity of the Borders, placing us at the cutting edge of new developments in education, technology and care. “It’s a budget we can be proud of and members across the political spectrum can support our plans knowing they are voting for a budget that benefits the whole region.”