REDUCING support for festivals, doing less work in parks and hiking up crematorium fees could help council chiefs balance the budget for the coming year.

Council tax will also be increased by just under 2 per cent to help Weymouth and Portland Borough Council close a budget gap of £900,000.

Efforts to save money and cut services are being done amid a grim financial outlook with the amount the council gets from the government being slashed more each year. By 2019/20 the authority will receive £4.7m less than it did at the beginning of the decade, taking into account inflation.

The council is facing further funding pressures, including the money it has to put aside to support the harbour and repair the quay walls.

Its partnership with west Dorset has saved money however and key decisions have been taken to reduce costs further including transferring the operation of the Pavilion, closing tourist information centres, redeveloping North Quay and marketing the Guildhall.

Proposals for balancing the budget for 2014/15 will be presented to the management committee tomorrow before the budget is set by full council on February 20.

Moves to rationalise the events programme have been criticised as the council stops funding summer firework displays and the kite festival.

However a group of volunteers led by Michael McManus has since come forward to take over the running of the kite festival and they are seeking sponsorship.

Trimming the parks and open spaces budget has also come under fire from Portland councillors who fear Victoria and Easton Gardens will close if the council stops maintaining them and hands them over to the community to run.

This proposal will be considered as part of the 2015/16 budget but a notice of motion to the committee will urge councillors to rethink the plan.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Paul Kimber, says: “We demand these gardens be kept open and that a budget for the maintenance of the gardens is maintained.”

Coun Ray Nowak has previously said the measure would have a ‘huge impact’ on Portland.

He said the Crown Estate, which owns both gardens, could decide to do something else with the land if it was not looked after.

Regarding the crematorium, the council wants to recoup some of the investment in the facilities so fees are being increased further.

The financial strategy for balancing the budget is based upon increasing the council tax by 1.99 per cent to generate £109,300, increasing the Band B charge by 8p a week.

Details of the full council tax bill for Weymouth and Portland residents will be known at the February 20 meeting.