The council’s cabinet on Friday morning unanimously agree to recommend the authority’s proposed budget for 2021/22 to the full council meeting on February 18.
As part of the budget, councillors heard that an additional £1.3m of spending would be included compared to what had previously been agreed, which included an extra £600,000 to tackle potholes and drainage issues on highways.
Spending increases for under-pressure areas like children’s services and adult health and care had already been given the green light.
The leader of the council, Cllr John Hart, confirmed he was proposing the extra cash for potholes and drainage, as well as extra money to get those in need and facing financial crises.
He said: “Over the past couple of months, I’ve met with parish and town councils across Devon as well as representatives from business, the voluntary sector, the trades unions and older people to consult on the budget.
“Our scrutiny committees have also made recommendations on spending they would like to see, and we were able to find a little extra money and put some of it in the highways budget for potholes and drainage.
“My job is to balance all these spending pressures against what it is reasonable to ask people to contribute in council tax.
“Keeping our roads in a decent state of repair is a never-ending job and there is never enough money to complete the job.
“But it’s vital for all our residents and it’s vital for our businesses. I hope that this extra cash – if it’s approved by the council – will help us meet people’s expectations.”
The £600,000 into highways budget for potholes and drainage means the spending in that sector is increased from last year.
The budget is predicated on a 4.99 per cent council tax rise, made of up three per cent ringfenced for adult services and 1.99 per cent for the running of the rest of the council. It means that the Devon County Council share of the council tax bill for 2021/22 for Band D will rise by £71.82 to £1,511.28.
Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said that the ‘u-turn’ on the highways cut was appreciated, while Cllr Frank Biederman, leader of the Independent Group, said it was welcomed as the false economy of not spending the money was ripping the roads apart.
The draft budget, unanimously agreed by the cabinet, of £580.8 million which will now mean an extra £37.3m for services where demand is consistently increasing compared to the 2020/21 budget.
Full council, when they meet on Thursday, February 18, will debate and determine the final budget proposals.