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 2010/11 has been set at £81.63.

The Council agreed its share of the Council Tax as part of its budget setting at its annual general meeting today (Thursday 25th February).

The annual charge of £81.63 at Band D represents an increase of £3.06 (3.9%) on 2009/10. While a 3.9% rise may seem high, Council Leader Cllr Barry Norton said looking at the increase in percentage terms was misleading as the Council’s rate is much lower – less than half the national average of £165 (in 2009/10).

Cllr Norton said: “This equates to an increase of just six pence per week or less than a penny per day. We hope that our residents will understand that a 3.9% increase on a low tax charge amounts to an increase of just £3.06 per annum, and they continue to benefit year after year from our low charges compared to other local authorities. I am confident that the increase will leave our council levying the second lowest charge out of all 201 shire district councils in England and the lowest in Oxfordshire by some margin.”

Although West Oxfordshire District Council’s 3.9% increase is amongst the highest in percentage terms of the county’s five district councils, the annual charge is much lower by comparison in monetary terms. For example, the highest district charge in Oxfordshire in the current year is Oxford City at £258 at Band D, more than three times the charge in West Oxfordshire.

Cllr Norton added: “If we were charging the national average for district councils at Band D, a 3.9% increase would result in a rise of more than £6 per annum. Or to look at it another way, our £3.06 increase equates to only a 1.8% rise if our tax was set at the national average level.”

The Council Tax charge will help to fund the many services provided by the District Council during the next year, including new, improved waste and recycling collections starting in the autumn which will see the introduction of a free garden waste service for every household.

Cllr Norton said the council had worked extremely hard to balance its budget at a time of “unprecedented uncertainty” for local government and while facing pressures from a significant decrease in investment income due to low interest rates, a continuing drop in income in areas such as planning, a “very poor” settlement from central government and shortfalls in government grants.

Despite the continuing serious financial challenges it faces, Cllr Norton said the council remained committed to providing excellent value for money services for residents, while continuing with a programme to make £450,000 efficiency savings in 2010/11 on top of the £1.2m savings already achieved over the last two years.

He said the council had reaffirmed its commitment to investing in the future of West Oxfordshire, with £11 million planned for capital projects as part of a five-year programme running until 2014/15, in addition to the £11.4 million cost budgeted for delivering the council’s vast range of services during the next year.

Cllr Norton highlighted just a few of the ways the council would be investing in the district and services for the benefit of residents:

* A better waste and recycling service with weekly food waste and recycling collections, and a new fortnightly free garden waste service. Previously, the garden waste service has been chargeable to residents at a rate of around £36 per annum per household.
* Continuing support for local communities with infrastructure, including the planned construction of a new community hall in North East Witney as well as investment in new or improved provision of community facilities in villages, such as a new village hall in Freeland.
* Continuing investment in affordable housing for West Oxfordshire, including provision of new affordable housing schemes in villages
* Continuing support for local businesses. 2009 saw the opening of the Marriotts Walk development in Witney, which has provided a key asset to the town and district as a whole, and the council remains committed to supporting economic development throughout West Oxfordshire.
* A continuing commitment to providing free car parking in all 16 council-owned car parks, which the council believes supports traders, residents and the local economy.

Cllr Simon Hoare, the council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “It’s been an extremely difficult budget to set. Each year local councils are asked to do more and more with less and less from government. Next year will be even more challenging. However, this year’s budget is a good deal for council taxpayers.”

The 81.63 rate for a Band D property represents West Oxfordshire District Council’s share of the total Council Tax bill for 2010/11. The District Council’s share represents only 5.5% of the total bill. The bulk of the bill, 80%, is payable to Oxfordshire County Council.

The total charge for a Band D property in West Oxfordshire will be £1,454.04: £1,161.71 will go to Oxfordshire County Council; £154.30 to Thames Valley Police; £81.63 to West Oxfordshire District Council; £56.40 to Town/Parish Council. The parish amount is based on an average charge and the total bill may be more or less depending on where residents live.

Residents will receive their annual bill during March and they can visit www.westoxon.gov.uk/CTcharge for more information or call 01993 861040.

Posted : 25/02/2010 16:41:12

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