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County council to consider two per cent tax increase
2:27pm Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
RESIDENTS could face a council tax rise of two per cent as part of North Yorkshire County Council's effort to prevent a further £2.3m of cuts.
Councillors will be asked in February to approve the authority’s budget for 2014 to 2015, and although no decision has yet been made, the financial strategy is based on a tax rise.
Council leader Coun John Weighell said without the tax increase the council would have to find £2.3m of savings on top of those already planned.
But Councillor David Simister said the council should first have a look at other ways to save money before putting an extra burden on the taxpayer.
He said: “UKIP councillors have called for members' expenses to be decreased – which did not go down well with many other councillors – but it is about setting a good example.
“Householders and businesses are still suffering because wages are not going up to cover increased taxes.”
Coun Weighell said: “Naturally we would prefer not to present the taxpayers of North Yorkshire with an increase in their bills.
“Since the budget of February 2011 we have frozen council tax, even though the financial consequences for the authority have been significant.”
In return for the tax freeze, the council has received a grant from the Government equivalent to a one per cent rise. A similar offer is being made for the next two years.
“However, we have reached the point where accepting that offer presents us with a financial challenge which we believe may be unacceptable,” said Coun Weighell.
“We are on track to save £94m over the four years ending in March 2015, and we estimate we already have to find a further £77m over the next four years.
“This represents a cut in our spending power of more than a third in eight years."
He added: “A rise of two per cent is equivalent to £21 a year or 41p a week for the average household.
“While any increase is regrettable, it is my belief that such a relatively small rise in individual tax bills, following three years of tax freezes, would be reasonable.”
Before making a decision in February the council will assess public attitudes to a rise through a consultation of approximately 2,000 local residents and views submitted on the council website.
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