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Bid to freeze council tax rejected by district council
A DISTRICT council has approved a 1.5 per cent rise in council tax despite members of the opposition party offering a last-minute alternative budget.
Richmondshire District Council went ahead on the recommendation of its strategy board members and finance officers who had advised that there would be significant cuts to Government spending in 2014 to 2015.
The council’s financial experts said although the reserve funds were healthy, it was important to ensure the budget was balanced this year ahead of more cuts next year.
With the tax increase, Band D taxpayers will pay an additional £2.90 a year.
But at Tuesday’s meeting of the full council, Conservative leader Fleur Butler offered a different budget that would allow the council to avoid the tax increase.
Coun Butler said: “We know that there are further cuts in the future, but this year there was nearly £500,000 under spend.
“We think this money should be used to give the tax payers a one-off break from endless tax rises.”
But Richmondshire District Council leader John Blackie said there were more cuts to funding on the horizon and it was a necessary move to avoid cutting much-needed public services.
“Both Coun Butler and I agree that there will be more cuts in the future,” he said.
“In December, completely out of the blue, the Government imposed the requirement to save a further £750,000 for 2014 onwards.
“It is not the time to ease up on our prudent approach to funding, and certainly not the time to reverse it.”
Coun Butler said: “There is enough money in the Tax Payers Reserve to protect the council from cuts for the next five years even if it brings in less revenue by accepting the freeze.
“This is what we set the reserve up for, to protect the residents from unnecessary rises year on year.”
Coun Blackie said the council were not cutting any services, and that resident would hopefully understand that an extra £2.90 a year was a small price to pay for that.
He said: “I have seen in the press that 41 per cent of other councils across the country have done the same thing as us – because like us they are worried about the future.”