A NORTH-EAST council has announced a tax freeze this year, as it prepares to consult on the future of its libraries.

Sunderland City Council unveiled the proposed freeze as part of its budget for 2013/14 – with a final decision on both the budget and the council tax to be debated at a full council meeting next month.

Coun John Kelly portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture said, in a bid to make savings, the cabinet had agreed to go out to consultation with user over the future of libraries.

He said: “What we haven’t done is make any decision over the closure of any libraries. That will come down to consultation process.”

Services could be spread out into school and community centres, functioning with the help of volunteers.

City council leader Councillor Paul Watson said: "This proposed freeze clearly recognises the economic climate and the challenges facing all residents.

"The council continues to do everything it can to mitigate the impact of these difficult economic circumstances."

The majority of households in Sunderland are in tax bands A and B.

Of the 122,000 properties in the city, 77,000 are classed as Band A and householders would continue to pay £790.64, without the police and fire service precepts.

The tax raises about 12 per cent of the total budget.

The council's total spending for 2013/2014 - including revenue and capital - is estimated at £695m.

In the last three years, there have been reductions of £100m in council spending.

This year with cost pressures and Government grant reductions a savings requirement of £37m has been identified. A similar savings requirement will be needed for the following two years.

Subject to agreement at a council meeting on Wednesday, March 6, it would be the third year running the council has frozen council tax.