Residents in East Northamptonshire will pay an extra £5 a year for their borough council services after a last-minute change to budget plans.
That means that the £138.65 per year the authority is currently charging for a band D property will increase to £143.65.
After the county council lion’s share of the bill plus the fire and police precepts are added in, the annual bill for band D East Northants resident will be £1,685.55. Some residents may also have an additional parish precept.
In an 11th-hour amendment the council’s officers recommended at the budget setting meeting last night (March 4) that the Conservative-run authority raise the bill. In the run-up to the meeting a council tax freeze had been proposed. All 30 councillors in attendance voted for the rise.
Speaking at the meeting chief finance officer Glen Hammons told councillors: “We can set a balanced budget but there are a number of risks in that budget. The first one is local government reorganisation. The council has made some provision within its reserves, following previous decisions.
“We are still awaiting a confirmation from Government as to whether we will be going live with local government reorganisation from April 2020. There is a risk in terms of the budget that we may need to find some money in terms of paying for that transition to new unitary councils.
“The second of the risks is local government funding levels. Next year’s budget is the last year of the four-year offer we had from government back in 2016. From 2020, there are three significant changes which are going to be happening from a national perspective that will affect our budget going forward.
“The first one is the spending review. Two others are the fair funding review and we have also got reform of business rates. All of these could affect the level of funding either this council or a new council receives.”
The chief finance officer said there were also risks around the cost of the £8m enterprise centre the authority is building in Raunds. He said it would not be clear whether the running cost estimates were correct until the centre was opened.
After paying for the enterprise centre costs the authority is likely to have £10m in reserves.
This fund will transfer over to the new unitary authority which is proposed to replace Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough, East Northants councils and Northants County Council.
The plan is for the new council to be in place for April 2020, but a final decision from secretary of state for local government James Brokenshire is still awaited.
Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service