January 31 2015 Latest news:
Monday, January 27, 2014
Extra cash taken from taxpayers after a council mistake is to be used to freeze this year’s bills.
Households in Felixstowe had to pay an average of 17p extra a week in council tax after an administrative error.
Felixstowe Town Council gained an additional £64,904 after the wrong budget amount was put on its precept submission forms during a complex, confusing and changing set of new government rules.
The money was put into a special reserve fund with the priority for its use to offset the council tax, possibly leading to a tax cut or a long-term freeze – though some councillors had hoped the money would be paid back to residents.
Now it has transpired that a pay-back will not be possible, but the money will be used to ensure there is no rise in the town council’s share of the tax in the forthcoming financial year.
The tax for a Band D property is expected to be £67.35.
Finance sub committee member Kimberley Williams said the council would have liked to have returned the overpayment but with the transition grant being phased out and the prospect of a 2% budget cap in the future, it was felt prudent to use the £64,904 to make up the shortfall for next year.
She said: “We have endeavoured to honour our commitment to ensure we budget properly to protect services going forward.”
Councillor Andy Smith said only modest increases were expected in the town share of the tax in the years ahead.
Town councillors set a budget of £625,654 for 2014/15. However, this will be offset by estimated income of £130,165 and the use of £7,094 from reserves, leaving a precept of £508,420.