Precept to remain same

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DRIFFIELD town council has set its budget for the next financial year and decided that there should be no rise in the amount of precept it asks people to pay as part of their overall council tax bill.

Councillors had been faced with the prospect of raising the amount of money they levy on households in Driffield following changes in the tax base imposed by the Government.

Driffield’s tax base will reduce for 2013/14, which meant the cost per household would rise even if the council set the same precept as in 2012/13

However, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council received council tax support funding from the Government to pass down to parish and town councils to partially offset the impact of such changes.

The clerk, Mrs Claire Binnington, told a full town council meeting that £32,194.42 would be received from the EYRC to lessen the impact of a reduced tax base.

This would allow the town council to peg the precept at £248,000. Without the support funding, the precept would have been £282,000 – equivalent to more than a 13% rise.

The town council agreed, with 10 in favour and two against, that the precept should be set at £248,000.

Mrs Binnington said: “As the tax base has reduced, an original unchanged precept of £282,000 would have meant the cost to a band D household would have risen by £8.58 a year, due to the support from ERYC, the council have successfully managed to maintain their budget plans, reduce the precept to £248,000, which in real terms means the cost per band D household has reduced to £63.93.”

The town council could have reduced its spending further by axing from the budget a number of items which it supports financially.

This would have removed £500 set aside for the Driffield show, £5,000 for town centre projects, £5,000 for a WW1 commemoration scheme, £1,000 for late night shopping, £10,000 for canal restoration, and £3,000 small grant fund.

However, town councillors agreed to leave those items in the budget.

Mrs Binnington said: “ “The budget working group met several times and put together a budget. The general idea was, before we got notification of this tax base cut, that we would set everything so that there was no change and the working group would recommend to full council that the precept would remain as last year at £282,000.

“Then it could be argued out and fine tuned as usual. This was before we were told that the tax base had been cut dramatically which meant that if we kept the same precept of £282,000 there would be less households paying it and the band D payment would go up by 13.4%

“In order for us to maintain a non change on the Band D our precept would have to reduce to £248,000.

“The East Riding said that to lessen the impact they would give us £32,000 which means that theoretically we can keep to our spending plan and kept the precept at £248,000, so the band D will not change.”

Coun Steve Poessl spoke in favour of the budget freeze.

“There are a lot of things going up at the moment. The cost of living is going up, the cost of fuel is going up. People are living on a knife edge. Those few quid make all that difference between debt and staying afloat. I for one will be voting for it to stay the same and next year I will be looking at all these figures again.”

Coun Kevin Stack said: “ I agree with Coun Poessl. Keep it as it is.”

Coun Tony Cooper had proposed that the budget discussions should be held in confidential but failed to get a seconder and so the matter was discussed in open council.

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