A report by the Section 151 Officer.
The Assistant Director – Finance presented the report to the committee stating that Members of the Committee would be well aware of the context in which the tabled budget along with recent budgets had been set, being in times of continuous change and significant financial challenge for councils. They had included ongoing reductions in grant support from the government, the impact of welfare reform, changes to the mechanism upon which central government support is allocated, and the proposed future moves for further localisation of the business rates regime. BTAC’s support included Footway Lighting, Central Park and open spaces maintenance, Public Conveniences and the Community Toilet Scheme; all key areas where the reduction in funding as a result of national policy would otherwise have seen the loss or severe reduction of some or all of these important services. In addition, the Committee had introduced BTAC Operatives, with a broad remit to maintain the BTAC area and improve the appearance of the town, and their efforts are producing tangible changes to the town’s look and feel. This is alongside the replacement of 90 litter bins in the town area. The Committee had also agreed extra Events funding, to support and enhance the range of events and activities for local people. Over recent years, BTAC had played a key role in helping keep the town clean and welcoming for residents, businesses and visitors, and introduced initiatives to maintain and provide services that people value highly. Without the Committee’s support the Borough Council would have had to make decisions that would have proved very difficult. Going forward, BTAC would play its part in deciding how and what future services are delivered in the town given the likely resources available to it and the Borough, and this budget will enable the new BTAC Committee to consider its priorities for the coming years.
Following the budget workshop delivered earlier in January, four options to illustrate the effects of changes to the assumptions on Council Tax identified the Council Tax projections and implications for the Committee’s resources based on feedback from members on the preferred scale of future BTAC operations and council tax levels going forward.
(a) The proposed increase of 1.35% in 2022/23, then 1% p.a.
(b) No increase in 2022/23, then 1% p.a.
(c) An increase of 0.5% in 2022/23, then 1% p.a.
(d) An increase of 1.0% in 2022/23, then 1% p.a.
The proposed budget requirement for 2022/23, and demand on Council Tax being:
Budget Requirement. 2021/22 £716.192. 2022.23 £732.864
Adjusted Tax Base. 2021/22 9.505.9 2022/23 9.597.4
Band D Equivalent (a-b)/c 2021/22 £75.34. 2022/23 £76.35
Committee deliberation followed which included:
Whilst some Members were reluctant to agree any increase in light of the current economic situation particularly in respect of predicted increases in gas and electricity prices, they did recognise the need to ensure continuity of funding and felt it fiscally irresponsible not to agree an increase. BTAC was committed to provide certain services including the recent successful implementation of closing the gates at Central Park, which residents had requested, and any change in providing those services would not be well received. BTAC was a committee of the Borough Council and the cap for the increase was 1.35% and a Member noted that the majority of properties within the BTAC area were within Bands A and B, and as such their increase would be lower than that of Band D as per the recommendation.
That BTAC recommends to Cabinet and Council the level of its Special Expense precept for 2022/23 at £732,864, and the Council Tax charge of £76.36 at Band D.