People in Rother are being asked to have their say on a council’s budget proposals amid continuing financial pressures.
Rother District Council has launched a consultation on its 2019-20 plans, which could include a 2.99 per cent increase in the authority’s share of council tax, meaning an extra £5.23 a year for band D residents.
Such a move would generate an extra £200,000 according to the council, but despite this, and additional savings of £600,000 identified for the year, the council still faces a funding gap of almost £1.5 million.
For the first time, the grant the council gets from central government, which was £1.8 million in 2015-16, will shrink to zero, meaning the authority is increasingly reliant on generating its own funding.
However, the council’s five-year financial plan shows expected revenue from its investments in property and other sources of income mean the funding gap is expected to shrink to just £253,000 by 2023-24.
Cllr Lord Ampthill, cabinet member for finance, resources and value for money, said: “In recent years, the council has faced the most challenging financial climate any of us can remember.
“Through staff reductions and other efficiencies, we’ve already saved millions of pounds from our budget, but the continuing squeeze on our finances means more tough decisions still need to be made.
“Our investments in commercial property will not only generate a continuing long-term revenue stream but, more importantly, help to sustain and improve the local economy. These investments will take time to realise the anticipated income so for the time being we have to live within our means.
“Increasing council tax will only provide a fraction of the savings we need to make, but the extra money it will generate will reduce the need for us to make cuts to services.
“I would urge people to take 10 minutes of their time to have a look at the proposals and let us know what they think, so their views can be taken into account when a final decision is made.”
The council anticipates spending £12.8 million on services in 2019-20, with most of its income now coming from its share of council tax and business rates.
A 2.99 per cent increase would see the district council’s portion of the council tax bill for a band D household increase from £174.32 to £179.55 a year.
People can take part in the consultation, which runs until Monday, December 17, online at http://www.rother.gov.uk/Budget2019, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Budget 2019 Consultation, Programme Office & Policy Team, Rother District Council, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN39 3JX.
The results of the consultation will be taken into account when the final budget proposals are debated by cabinet and full council in February.