Friday, 20 January 2012
THANET DISTRICT COUNCIL BUDGET 2012/13
A “safe and sustainable” budget, with no increase to Thanet’s part of the Council Tax, has been agreed by full Council.
The proposals, agreed last night (Thursday 19 January), set out how the council will save another £1.5 million during 2012/13, as it faces a cut in its funding from central government of 16.9%. Much of the savings will come from a staff restructure, which was put in place in April 2011, with further savings from sharing services with neighbouring councils, reductions in interest and insurance costs and other efficiency savings.
Thanet’s part of the Council Tax, which is just under £210 a year for a Band D household, will be frozen for the second year running. In return, the council will receive a one-off £250,000 grant from central government.
Cllr. Rick Everitt, Cabinet Member for Financial Services, said: “Our objective is a safe and sustainable budget that will deliver the policies and aspirations of the council as far as is possible within the current funding settlement. I am pleased that these proposals enable us to present a budget that supports a zero Council Tax increase and I am sure residents will welcome a Council Tax freeze for another year. The government will support this freeze by paying a grant equivalent to a 2.5% increase on the 2011/12 council tax level for one year only.”
The council has seen some growth in its income, with an additional £300,000 coming in from the rental of the South Eastern breakwater at Ramsgate Royal Harbour Marina and land occupancy and pontoon rental at the Port of Ramsgate.
Cllr. Rick Everitt acknowledged the role of the previous Conservative administration and the council’s Independent group in developing this budget, saying: “This is perhaps the most cross-party budget in Thanet’s history. Having taken over the leadership of the council in December 2011, it wouldn’t be right for us to claim this as “our budget”, and with so little room for financial manoeuvre, it is inevitable there is much common ground. A great deal of hard work has been done by officers behind the scenes, as is always the case, and I thank them for that.”
He added: “One thing that we have done, since taking control of the council, is to look carefully at the increases that were proposed to the council’s various fees and charges. We were concerned about how much more people were being asked to pay for cremations and burials and in extra car parking charges. We didn’t feel that increases well above inflation were right in the current economic situation, so we’ve reduced our budget requirement for both back down to an extra 4%.”
Plans to remove a discount for pest control services for those on benefits have also been removed.
In another change to the original budget, the proposed reductions to the events and floral grant budgets have been reversed.
Cllr. Everitt has strongly defended this decision. “We’re aware that this has not had universal support, but our concern has been that one effect of these cuts would simply have been to pass some additional costs on to Thanet’s residents through the precept levied by the isle’s parish and town councils. Events help to support tourism and the local economy. They are more important than ever in a year that includes the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London 2012. With the Olympic torch coming through Thanet, we’re determined to make sure that Thanet plays its part in this national celebration. As such, cutting TDC’s events budget in such a crucial year makes no sense to us. We want to provide a warm welcome to visitors to Thanet and ensure that we provide the most appealing environment and best possible events for our residents.”