Council tax to rise in Guildford

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By mattcollison | Friday, December 07, 2012, 13:53

PLANS to raise council tax and make further budget cuts have been announced by Guildford Borough Council (GBC).

At a meeting last night (December 6), the authority's Executive cabinet set out the authority's outline budget report, including plans to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent.

The authority, which was forced to borrow £192 million last year, will also need to make an additional £1.5 million savings on top of cutbacks already set out in an effort to claw back its spending.

The increased council tax will mean an extra £2.87 a year or six pence a week for a band D property, but other fees and charges may also increase by up to 4.5 per cent.

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, leader of the council, said: "Changes to the way our government grant is distributed, and other funding reductions, mean that it is difficult to accurately predict our income for 2013-14. 

"We must now consider a 1.99 per cent Council Tax increase and higher fees and charges so that we can continue to provide high quality services for our community. 
"Our current band D Council Tax is five per cent lower than it would have been thanks to the freeze in Council Tax during the last two years. 

"A third year freeze would have a long-term impact on our income and the investment we could make in the borough. We are now returning to a policy of Council Tax rises below the rate of inflation, which has been our predominant policy over the last seven years. We must continue with our effective financial planning to make sure we achieve our aims for the benefit of everyone."

GBC has proposed increasing off street car parking charges, axed funding for Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra and could review funding for Guildford Spectrum in an effort to balance its budget.

However, the council, which has a AAA credit rating, has been praised  by the district auditor for meeting financial targets and efficiencies, with spending last year £2.1 million below budget.

The authority promised over the coming financial year to increase support for Guildford Community Job Club and invest in infrastructure -including studies on improving town centre and the A3 corridor traffic flow.

It also vowed more measures to tackle homelessness and support for the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cllr Mansbridge said: "Despite ongoing financial pressures, we want to create opportunities and choice for future generations. By improving the efficiency of our existing services, we have already created scope to invest in new projects. 

"We saved £2.49 million in 2011-12 and £2.58 million in 2012-13. At the same time, we made significant improvements to our services including recycling and car parks. 
"We will continue to transform the way we operate, work with other organisations to produce joint savings, and use our assets more effectively to generate income and support the local economy."

The Council's budget for 2013-14 will be finalised in February.



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