FINANCE chiefs are now recommending a 2.5 per cent increase in the level of Council Tax kept by Scarborough Council following a period of public consultation – despite government requests for no increase at all.
Members of Scarborough Council’s Cabinet is expected to endorse the recommendation on Tuesday before it is finally decided at a meeting of all councillors on Friday, February 24.
Nicholas Edwards, the council’s finance director, had previously recommended a rise of three per cent and has gathered people’s views at a range of public meetings in recent weeks. In his report to Cabinet he said the proposed increase would represent an annual rise of £4.69 for a Band C property.
He added: “Understandably one of the key points discussed and raised at the member forums and budget presentations was the proposal to increase Council Tax by three per cent in 2012/13 and turn down the Government’s offer of a one-off Council Tax freeze grant.
“The proposed increase was also one of the main points raised in the responses from the web based consultation exercise. Despite a number of residents and members agreeing with the proposal to opt for the long term financial benefits derived from a Council Tax increase in order to protect services over the long term; the general consensus from the feedback received was that the council should accept the Government’s grant and freeze its Council Tax levels for another year.”
Mr Edwards said that officers had considered the feedback and as a result the proposals had been revised for an increase of 2.5 per cent.
He had previously recommended that the Government grant funding should be declined because it was only for one year and would represent a total loss of income of around £2.2 million over a 10-year period – the council would have to make efficiency savings in future years to claw back the shortfall.
Earlier this month it was revealed that county councillors had recommended a freeze on the level of tax levied by North Yorkshire County Council – the county decision is due to taken on Wednesday.
More than 142 councils across the country have indicated that they will not increase council tax this year.
Scarborough Council is facing a 33 per cent cut in funding over the next two years – with a reduction in the Government grant of 14.6 per cent.
To ease the strain on household budgets council tax payers are being offered the option of paying their bill in 12 monthly instalments instead of 10 payments.