SWAFFHAM: Council seeks more of tax bills
Swaffham Town Council is to increase its share of the council tax bill by 34 per cent to ensure it can continue funding extra services it has taken on from Breckland Council.
Town councillors held an extraordinary meeting last week to set their budget for the next financial year knowing that, in future, they might need to hold a referendum before any hikes in the council’s precept.
Three-quarters of the properties in Swaffham fall within bands A to C, as it is a low income area. Band A rises from £64.27 to £86.23, band B from £74.98 to £100.61 and band C from £85.69 to £114.98, with the usually quoted band D level going up from £96.40 to £129.35.
In recent years, the town council has taken on maintenance of play areas and public toilets from Breckland. It also looks after street lighting, which is a special expense in some towns but not in Swaffham where it is included in the precept.
Town council clerk Richard Bishop told the Lynn News: “We are budgeting properly for the services we have taken on and to cope with the changes the government brought in with the way that benefits are provided to people paying their council tax.
“It’s no longer provided by central government, it’s provided by each local authority, so the benefits are being funded at local level now.”
The government has told district and county councils to hold a referendum before increasing their share of council tax by more than two per cent, although this does not currently apply to town and parish councils. However, there have been broad hints the need for a referendum could be extended to them in the future.
Mr Bishop said: “The town councillors are trying to get their house in order in one year so that in future years they should be able to deal with things a little bit easier.
“If they just wanted to maintain the council tax level they had last year, they were looking at a £15,000 cut in public services. But instead of making that cut, they are saying we can budget for those services.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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