COUNCIL tax is set to rise after Surrey County Council went against government advice to freeze bills.
Officers have decided to reject a one-off government grant of £14 million in favour of increasing the amount they charge residents.
It means the tax amount householders pay to the county council – which accounts for the majority of council tax bills – is set to rise by 2.99 per cent in April, or £33.38 per year for an average Band D home.
Defending the move, the council claims accepting the grant would have meant "short-term gain for long-term pain".
Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: "If we took the money now, in 2014-15 we would have to put up council tax by 5 per cent.
"The money we get would be the equivalent of a 2.5 per cent rise, and so we would have to double it the following year.
"We have saved £130 million over the last two years and we are on course to save £330m by 2016.
"Finances are tight, and we would have been letting the residents of Surrey down if we had accepted the £14 million.
"Looking at schools alone, we've got to provide 14,000 extra school places for children over the next five years. This isn't about us wanting to spend more money; we've already made huge savings from our budget."
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council is freezing its share of council tax at last year's rate, but Surrey Police, which also takes a share, has not set its rates yet.