Residents in the Warwick district will have to cough up an extra £5 for their council tax following a decision by district councillors last night (Wednesday).
The increase will mean properties in band D will face a tax bill of £166.86 which will be added to the Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police and parish/town council precepts.
In presenting the figures, which help make up the general budget for 2019/20, the portfolio holder for finance Cllr Peter Whiting (Con Arden) explained to Warwick District Council’s full council meeting that while the increase was by the highest amount possible without holding a referendum, it remained one of the lowest in the country.
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“This budget is, like most budgets should be in my view, relatively dull,” Cllr Whiting admitted. “We are increasing by the maximum we are allowed to but we remain around the lowest quartile of council charges and that’s creditworthy given the quality of services we provide.
“This administration has worked extremely hard in extremely difficult circumstances to continue to support services and aid investments and I think the leisure investment shows just what can be done when private sector expertise and initiative together with some of our capital is brought to bear.
“The result for our residents has been truly spectacular and the impact on our finances is being truly spectacular - crudely speaking, a swing of about £2m a year from cost to income over the life of that contract.”
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Councillors voted 32-5 in favour of the Conservative group’s budget and council tax proposal having previously rejected a number of amendments put forward by the Labour group. These related to making £144,000 of savings with £40,000 of that being allocated to a Universal Credit transition fund. Money would have been shaved off the tourism budget and also Rural & Urban Community Infrastructure Services (RUCIS).
Cllr Colin Quinney (Labour Leam) explained: “There is a need to keep a reasonably tight grip on our spending as a council and the object of these amendments is to show that the Labour party is trying to focus on obvious ways in which money can be saved. I think it is prudent, I think it is logical and I think it is good housekeeping.”
But the grants available from RUCIS were defended by Cllr Pam Redford (Con Stoneleigh & Cubbington) who explained they benefited both rural and urban areas.
She said: “They are called upon more and more, particularly in the rural parishes. It helps with restoration of community assets such as the village pub and shops which are now falling by the wayside. To suggest that this budget is cut is a travesty and, as parish and town council champion, I oppose this amendment.”