Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Thanet District Council Draft Budget

By Cllr Rick Everitt - Cabinet Member for Finance. 

"No increase in council tax and some lower than originally proposed fees and charges are key aspects of the draft budget to be considered by Thanet District Council’s new Labour cabinet on Thursday night. 

If eventually agreed by council a Band D householder will again pay just under £210 for TDC’s services in 2012/13, although the final council tax bill is dependent on other authorities’ decisions, including those of Kent County Council and the isle’s town and parish councils. 

The new TDC administration has also intervened to reverse £50,000 of cuts to events funding and floral grants that had been tabled by the former Conservative administration. 
Given that we only came into office on December 8th and the budget proposals had to be finalised well before Christmas, we have necessarily been limited in the changes we could make. 

However, we have been able to reduce an inflation-busting 9 per cent hike to off-street car parking fees to allow time for a genuine consultation on proposals for a new charging scheme and we have cut back Conservative plans for 8.5 per cent and 15 per cent increases to the cost of cremations and burials. 

Tory proposals to increase charges for pest control services to poorer households have also gone and we have reversed cuts in two areas that we believe would have particular impact on visitors coming to Thanet, in recognition of the bearing tourism has on the local economy. 

These changes have been funded from existing government funding. We have made no new increases in fees and charges to cover them or to the council tax and neither are we drawing on reserves. The money was already there in government funding. It simply wasn’t allocated. 

We recognise that many residents are suffering because of the state of the economy and as far as we can we have set out to ensure that the council doesn’t add to their problems. 

Thanet has been severely hit by government cuts. We are one of only 12 local authorities in England - and the only one in Kent - that is receiving top-up funding this year because the scale of the funding reduction is so steep. 

So while we are able to balance the books and do so without any significant cuts in jobs and services this year, we are not pretending that the council is doing everything it would like to do or is always delivering services of the quality and reliability that residents deserve. 

Neither are we giving up on making those improvements in the future. 

After cabinet on Thursday night, the budget proposals will go before overview and scrutiny next Tuesday (January 10th) and then on to council, which has the final say, on Thursday, January 19th. 

The Conservatives have already had ample opportunity to input to the process as they effectively had ownership of the budget until less than a month ago. We have also held meetings with the council’s four Independent members to hear their views. 

It’s a budget that all sides have had an opportunity to shape and therefore one which all should be able to support".

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