Jude Robinson, Cornwall Council's only Labour member, has written a post arguing that Cornwall would be wrong to freeze council tax this year because it would create bigger problems in the future.
Rather than me try to summarise and get it wrong, read her post here and then come back and let me tell you why I disagree with her.
In essence, this argument boils down to who pays for the necessary increase in council tax that needs to be imposed in order to protect essential services.
That increase - after taking account of efficiency savings - is 2.5%.
That Labour argument appears to be that it should all be borne by the taxpayer through a council tax increase.
The Liberal Democrats say that we should take account of the Government's offer of a grant equivalent to 2.5% of council tax - about £6 million. If we took that grant then we could freeze council tax for another year, saving local people anywhere from £20 to £60+.
Jude is quite right to point out this government grant is for one year only and will disappear next year. So what do we do next year? Ideally, we keep council tax as low as possible again whilst guaranteeing not to cut front-line services. How much of an increase in council tax this will cost can't be predicted yet. But if it takes an increase of more than 2.5% then we should consider that.
A higher increase might sound bad - but combined with this year's freeze it make sense in terms of money.
Suppose a family's council tax this year was £1000. Next year, with a 2.5% rise it will be £1025. The year after, with another 2.5% rise it would be £1050.63.
So over the next three years:
According to the Lib Dem plan, a family might pay £1000+£1000+£1050.63 = £3050.63
According to Jude's preference, a family might pay £1000+£1025+£1050.63 = £3075.63
So Labour would cost you £25 more but wouldn't have a single extra penny in the bank - so there would be no extra services.
We cannot predict what level of council tax we will need in 2013/14 to keep the current level of frontline services, but I hope that this shows that for the coming year it makes sense to accept the Government grant and freeze council tax. Cornwall cannot afford to look a £6 million gift horse in the mouth.