Driffield Town Council has agreed to increase their council tax precept by just 2% for the financial year 2014/2015.
This means the owner of an average Band D property in the town will pay of £64.93 towards the town council - a rise of just £1.
Town Clerk, Claire Binnington, said: “I can assure the people of the town that a great deal of thought and work has gone into setting this budget and the consequent precept figure.
“There seems to be a misconception as to what people actually get for their £64.93 a year, and I always assure those who ask that they would miss us if we went.
“There would be no public toilets, no markets, no special events, no hanging baskets, considerably fewer bedding schemes, no town signs, no Christmas lights or tree, no Tourist Information Point, no allotments, you would be 30 grit bins less, over 40 litter bins less, no town bus, no promotion or special community campaigns and most importantly - no-one to fight Driffield’s corner - the list is endless’.
The Mayor, Coun Heather Venter, said: “We do realise that to raise the precept will most likely be met with dismay, but we must assure everyone that this was not a decision made lightly, and although the Band D cost will rise by only £1 per year, a pound is a pound, however to ignore future grant cuts would mean a much bigger rise in years to come”.
The council was aware some months ago that setting the precept would be extremely challenging and conducted a consultation with residents to ascertain what services were important to them.
The councillors used the findings when considering the budget and have prioritised spending in line with the consultation results. Litter, dog fouling and gritting during severe weather came out as major concerns and this is reflected in schemes to provide additional litter bins, grit bins and action to combat dog fouling.
The Town Clerk has made efforts to ensure that all aspects of the council’s operations have been streamlined and it is hoped that the results of these changes will be reflected in cheaper running costs over the coming months.
The council in previous years have made provision for various major projects such as the canal and activities in the town centre, however this year in order to keep the budget within reason, have not reallocated funds to these areas.
Due to council tax benefit changes all councils, including town and parish councils have seen a drastic cut in their tax base – the figure by which precept demands are calculated.
Last year the council’s precept was subsidised by a £32,000 grant from the ERYC, which had come from central government, to cushion the blow of the diminished tax base.
This enabled the council to cut the precept from £282,000 to £248,000, and ensuring the yearly cost of the town council to a Band D household remained static at £63.93.
This year the ERYC grant was cut to £28410, and it is highly likely that consequent grants (if any) will also diminish, with this in mind, the council were concerned that a staggered increase (the first for three years) should be considered, to make up for the short fall and ensure a continuation of services.
The budget was set at £327,939, with income and the grant from ERYC taken into account this left a possible precept figure of £249529.
As the tax base has risen slightly from last year this meant the Band D figure would be £63.65, a slight decrease.
The Town Council agreed to raise the precept to £254520, a 2% rise on the £249,529, which equates to a Band D costing of £64.93, which due to the tax base increase means in real terms each household is only paying a 1.56% increase.
It is due to the increased tax base that although the precept figure of £254,520 is a 2.63% increase on last year’s £248,000, the ‘magic’ formula of the Band D household equates to only a 1.56% rise.
The Town Council appreciate that times are hard and they have reflected their knowledge and sensitivity to this over the last three years, maintaining the precept at the same level, unfortunately, due to increased pressure of diminishing grants and the effect of the council tax benefit changes this static situation could no longer be maintained.