COUNCIL tax payers in the district will have to pay an inflation-busting extra 5.44 per cent from April.
Stratford District Council, which accounts for around eight per cent of the total bill, this week agreed a 1.5 per cent increase in its share – a lot less than most local authorities.
The big hike is chiefly down to the five per cent increase already agreed by Warwickshire County Council, which accounts for nearly four fifths of the total bill.
Warwickshire Police – which accounts for around 12 per cent of the overall bill – also increased its share by a hefty 11.77 per cent with the promise of more high profile policing in the county.
The district council also agreed budget proposals previously reported by the Observer.
They included just over £1.1million towards the legal costs for the compulsory purchase of Wellesbourne Airfield, and a £750,000 one off sum for ‘improvements’ to the council’s Elizabeth House headquarters in Stratford to allow sub-letting, which could bring in some £80,000 annually from next year.
Also agreed was £70,000 to buy up to six properties to provide temporary accommodation and help households access private rented accommodation, and reduce the costly use of bed and breakfast accommodation.
Another one-off cost of £86,000 was agreed to support the dial a ride transport scheme for residents stuck for transport anywhere in the district.
And Warwickshire tourism body Shakespeare’s England will receive £75,000 for three years to support the tourism industry and local economy.
Council leader Tony Jefferson said: “This is the last year of the four year finance settlement from central government – for the first time ever the district council is receiving no revenue support grant. That said the budget is balanced with a modest contribution to our reserves.
“A key point people really do need to understand is that although our reserves are currently £9.2million, reflecting our prudent and sound financial management in anticipation of the challenging times ahead, over the next five years these are forecast to reduce to £2.6million. In reality our capability to use reserves to fund our activities ends in four years (2023/24).
“Given the reductions in government support and the budget pressures, there is the need for a modest increase of 1.5 per cent council tax, equating to an increase of £2.05, but this is significantly less than the £5 maximum increase allowed by central government. We can deliver this through the sound financial management of the district council’s resources.
“We are committed to keeping any increases in council tax to a minimum and I can assure you that this budget represents real value for money. This level of council tax will be the lowest within Warwickshire, and will be amongst the lowest ten per cent of district councils in the country.”