Council Tax - Bills in Mix 96 area to freeze.. or even FALL!
6:01am 12th December 2011
Councillor Ann Ducker of South Oxfordshire District Council has become the first council leader to announce that her council intends to reduce its council tax in 2012/13, a move which would be a welcome boost to many residents throughout the district.
The District Council say they were always planning to hold bills to last year's rates - but after the Chancellor announced he was giving financially frugal councils money directly to cover costs - the Authority said it wanted to pass that saving onto residents.
Leader Ann Ducker told us how the Council have managed to do it, without affecting services "We've got one Chief Executive between two councils (us and Vale of White Horse), and we've got strategic directors across two councils, so we share staff, right down through to the various departments and the sharing of services; so no front line services have been cut.
We've also been outsourcing to the private sector running our sports and leisure centres, our waste collection -
our recyclables are one of the top in the country. By making all these measures, we've been able to save £5m year-on-year on our budget."
Budget proposals, which include plans for a second council tax freeze next year, are expected to get the green light at Buckinghamshire County Council's Cabinet meeting on Monday.
If approved, the Council's draft financial plans for the next three years will go forward for further consultation with residents, the business community and other partners. The plans will also be reviewed by the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee before budgets are finalised at the meeting of the full council on 16th February 2012.
Overall, the Council's 2012/13 net revenue budget is expected to be in the region of £325 million with its capital investment being around £90 million.
Council Leader, Martin Tett says it has been an immensely difficult and challenging process to develop these initial budget proposals and to get the books to balance. "Everyone knows resources to fund public services are reducing dramatically whilst both costs and demand for services are increasing. It's a difficult juggling act and tough decisions have had to be taken, but we do have proposals on the table to deliver a balanced budget, protect front line services and maintain support to the voluntary sector. We will also be making additional investments in the areas that really matter to our residents such as our roads and pavements, as well as cracking down on poor work by utility companies.
"It's also good news for residents in that, in line with government expectations, we expect to deliver a Council Tax freeze yet again next year. With all other household bills rising, I know this will make a small but important difference to the money in people's pockets."
Martin Tett added "I would particularly like to thank all those residents who took part in our initial budget consultation - 'Your Money, Your Choice'. I am very keen that we are ‘customer focused’ in what we do. Over 700 people gave their views and these have helped shape the budget priorities and are reflected in the proposals going to Cabinet on Monday. It's absolutely vital that we get our plans right, so residents will have a further chance to comment over the coming weeks before the Council makes its final decisions in February."
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