FENLAND: Council tax likely to rise by 3.9 per cent but finance chief warns of 1 per cent 'headroom'
By John Elworthy COUNCIL tax payers in Fenland can expect an increase of 3.9 per cent next year – but it could go higher if the district council decides to push the barrier to Government limits. The warning of a possible rise above the limit the council
By John Elworthy
COUNCIL tax payers in Fenland can expect an increase of 3.9 per cent next year - but it could go higher if the district council decides to push the barrier to Government limits.
The warning of a possible rise above the limit the council had previously set is contained in a report from finance director Mat Taylor.
"For planning purposes an assumed increase in council tax of 3.9 per cent has been allowed for in the projections," says Mr Taylor. "The Government again stated that council tax increases should not exceed five per cent for 2008/9. This limit is certain to continue for 2009/10"
However Mr Taylor, in a report to next week's overview and scrutiny committee, says that consequently "there is 1 per cent 'headroom' between the assumptions built into the budget projections for 2009/0 and the 'capping' limit."
Financial pressures on the council are detailed in the report with Mr Taylor reminding councillors that "the current year's revenue budget continues to be under more external pressure this financial year due to the impact of the current economic climate."
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He recalls telling councillors this last month when a report to Cabinet indicated a potential overspend this year of £200,000.
"This potential overspend may well impact on the estimates for 2009/10 and future years," he says. With several months to the end of the financial year there will be time to consider the draft estimates for next year and also to study further the national economic position.
However Mr Taylor points out that Fenland is still better off than many parts of Britain- it ranks 201st out of 238 district councils " i.e. the 38th lowest average council tax. This also means Fenland has the lowest average council tax per dwelling in Cambridgeshire."
Fenland will also benefit from an extra £1 million of income next year when the Housing Revenue Account is closed- the final part of the jigsaw following the sale to Roddons Housing Association of the authority's 4,000 council homes.