Your District Council has voted unanimously to increase its share of Council Tax bills for the first time in six years.
The 1.94% increase – agreed by councillors last night (Thursday 3 March) – means Dales households will pay on average 1p more a day for District Council services in 2016/17.
The District Council collects Council Tax on behalf of all local authorities but only spends 12% of the total (Derbyshire County Council's share is 70%).
The cost of District Council services – including affordable housing, business support, leisure centres and health initiatives, waste and recycling collections, parks maintenance, street cleaning and leading on crime prevention initiatives – will be around 53p a day per household in the coming year.
A larger than anticipated £603,000 (21%) central government grant cut in 2016/17 comes on top of grant reductions of 13.8% last year, 10.8% in 2014/15 and 15.6% in 2013/14 – but the District Council is pledging there will be no significant service reductions in the coming year.
The lack of a government incentive this year to local councils that freeze charges means Local Council Tax payers are being asked to fund grant cuts following five consecutive increase-free years.
Successive government grant cutbacks mean the District Council needs to make additional ongoing savings of £0.73 million over the next five years – and it is pledging to continue to identify savings through its comprehensive service review programme.
District Council Leader Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said:
"We continue to work incredibly hard to protect our residents from the impact of cutbacks and we remain immensely proud of the frontline services we provide for the people of the Derbyshire Dales.
"Behind the scenes we are reviewing all our services on a rolling basis, striving to work more efficiently, sometimes with partners or as shared services. We have saved £900,000 so far. Every penny is accounted for and that has also meant rationalising reserves and reprioritising our capital spend."
Looking ahead, Councillor Rose added:
"We are only too well aware there is more to be done in terms of savings and our concern is that we will soon be running out of options. Our reserves are the lowest they have been for many years and more radical solutions may well be needed in the future, leading potentially to being forced to make some unpopular decisions with the public. Future capital projects in particular will need critical evaluation."
Substantial savings have been identified following completed reviews of the District Council's administration service, leisure service, tourism service and discretionary grants, and from a merger of its grounds maintenance and street cleansing functions. Other ongoing service reviews are helping the District Council to keep Council Tax increases to a minimum.
Council tax in band D is currently £189.66 in 2015/16. The proposed increase of 1.94% equates to an extra £3.68 a year (1p a day), taking the band D council tax rate to £193.34 in 2016/17