Uckfield Town Council’s portion of your council tax bill could rise in the next financial year by less than £5.
The final budget and precept decision will not be made until January but emerging figures show the council is on target to cap the rise at around three per cent, or less.
Councillors reviewed the latest budget forecasts for 2019/2020 at a full council meeting on Monday (December 3).
Line by line
Council officers have gone through the budget line by line to whittle down spending, where possible, and to ensure income figures are as accurate as possible.
At the same, privately before the meeting, councillors had agreed to cut projected spending in a number of areas.
This included ‘saving’ £25,000 instead of £50,000 towards future play area renewal.
Former town deputy mayor, Cllr Duncan Bennett, Trust Independent, New Town, strongly defended the council’s spending and said much of any increase was due to the town’s coffers being used to plug gaps where higher authorities, such as East Sussex County Council, had made cuts in service provision.
He also defended the level of council tax in the town – Cllr Paul Sparks, Liberal Democrat, Uckfield North – had pointed out the highest figure for council tax in Wealden was found in Uckfield.
Cllr Bennett said the town council huge portfolio of assets, greater than other towns and parishes and that people in Uckfield had more than anybody else.
He said the council’s job was to ensure they townspeople received value from those assets, such as public halls and pitches.
“We do a great deal and we are awful at blowing our own trumpet,” he said.
Cllr Sparks also queried the amount the council had ‘saved’ – £120,000 – to pay for consultants if work went ahead on remodelling the town centre. Some of the money could be released, he argued, because of the low likelihood of the regeneration plan coming forward.
Further work will now be carried out on the town council’s budget before the precept is set.
At present, the projected rise is based on the current year’s ‘tax base’ – basically the number of houses in the town.
By January, the new tax base will be known and is likely to be higher than the current year.
That would either further reduce the rise or allow councillors to put a little more spending into the budget.
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