Witney News - Council Tax share set for West Oxfordshire

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Council Tax share set for West Oxfordshire

West Oxfordshire District Council’s share of the Council Tax for a Band D property in 2009/10 has been set at £78.57.

The Council Tax share was set as part of the Council’s budget agreed by the Council at its annual meeting held today, Thursday, February 26th.

Cllr Barry Norton, Leader of the Council, said: “This represents an increase of £3.69 per annum or 4.9 % on the Council Tax levied in the current year. A £78.57 annual charge equates to an average of a little over £1.50 per week per household for all services provided by our Council, from waste and recycling collections, leisure centres, housing and planning services, to the provision of free parking at 15 car parks, and much, much more.”

Cllr Norton said that while 4.9% may sound like a large rise, looking at the increase in percentage terms was misleading as the Council’s rate is so much lower than the national average.

He added: “The increase of £3.69 is a single penny a day or just seven pence per week. I am confident that the increase will leave the Council levying the second lowest charge yet again out of the 238 shire district councils in England and the lowest in Oxfordshire by some margin. By way of comparison, the highest charge in Oxfordshire in the current year is Oxford City at a level of £247, more than three times our charge.”

Cllr Norton said the Council, like many local authorities across the country, was facing immense financial pressures from price inflation, falling income from planning and housing-related activities, interest rate falls and an “extremely poor” settlement from central government, and had faced significant challenges in balancing the budget as a result of the drastically changed economic climate.

Despite the difficult economic times, Cllr Norton said the Council was continuing to invest in the future of the District, with £9.1 million being invested in Capital projects as part of a five-year programme which runs until 2013/14.

He highlighted just a few of the ways the Council is investing in the District and planning for the future:

* An extended Garden Waste Scheme to allow more householders to have their green waste collected from their homes. The Council is also in the early stages of a tender process to secure a new waste management contract to improve waste and recycling collection services.
* Continued support of local communities with infrastructure, with 2009/10 due to see the construction of a new community hall in North East Witney and an enhanced Town Hall in Chipping Norton.
* Continued investment in affordable housing and work to try to increase availability of market discount housing and shared equity schemes, which are proving difficult to arrange in the current economic climate.
* Funding for flood prevention schemes to mitigate future flooding risks.
* Encouraging wider shopping, leisure and employment opportunities, and ensuring more money is kept within West Oxfordshire, with the Marriotts Close development, Witney.

Cllr Norton said the Council would continue to do all it could to help businesses through the economic downturn and he believed its policy of free parking across the District would provide huge support.

Cllr Simon Hoare, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Given the prevailing economic circumstances and a poor settlement from central government this has been a very challenging budget to set. During the course of the year we will be identifying additional savings in expenditure to reduce our short-term reliance on our reserve budget. I am confident that we can do this and that will be good news for the council taxpayer.”

Posted : 26/02/2009 18:09:59

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