Agenda item

To set amounts of Council Tax for the area for each band for the financial year 2011/12 and the payment dates for 2011/12 considered with item 7(xi) Financial Strategy

To consider a report by the Head of Finance and Asset Management  (Reference 11/125 attached).

Minutes:

The Council considered a report by the Head of Finance and Asset Management (Reference 11/125). It was noted that this item was being considered with item 7k Financial Strategy.

Cllr Fox introduced this item and informed members that there was a typographical error on page 75 which stated that there was a budget saving from market testing of Manor Road of £25000. This should state £0 at present.

Cllr Kenyon then presented this item to council.  She stated that it was her duty to present the budget for 2011/12 in a climate of major challenges to local government. She did not think that any councillor had stood for election to council to make the budget that they had to pass that day. The council was tied by the rules and resources of Central Government. The anticipated cuts of 8% of central government funding had in reality been 14% for 2011/12 which left the council with a funding deficit of £2.1million, There had been briefings and public consultation on the budget and the council had responded to the results of the consultation where possible. She stated that once the budget was set the council then had to oversee to ensure the delivery of these savings. Cllr Kenyon said that if any councillor wished to challenge the budget they needed to have a viable alternative and she reminded members that this was not the time to play politics. Cllr Kenyon then paid tribute to the Head of Finance and Asset Management and his staff who had worked hard to form a balanced budget and also to all the officers who had worked to achieve the savings.

 

Cllr Broadbent stated that he had attended many public meetings recently and that the main concern of the public was that services for vulnerable groups were protected and he did not feel that the budget achieved this. He stated that the council may want to save money for a rainy day but for many residents that rainy day had now arrived. He informed members that the Trades Union Congress had organised a march against the cuts on 26 March and there would be a local march in Scarborough.  He asked what was the budget doing to promote growth in the borough.

Cllr Tom Fox replied that:

·        the budget was seeking to engage Local Economic Partnerships, focussing on business in the borough to create jobs;

     and in relation to vulnerable groups:

·        the council was aiming to reduce the time required to process benefits claims from 17 days to 6 days, and

·        removing any backlog for disabled facilities grants.

Cllr Watson asked if the budget was approved that day how many job losses would there be and how much would it cost in redundancy payments.  He was advised by Mr Edwards that a written response would be provided.

Cllr Popple stated that he agreed with Cllr Broadbent and thought it was disgraceful that the government had cut the grant to the council by 14% this year and 8.2% the following year. He suggested that this had been done to get the bad news out of the way before the next general election but this meant that councils did not have the time to properly consider the cuts they needed to make. He stated that members could pick out individual parts of the budget but there was no indication of which departments would lose staff. He believed that the council should reinstate the park rangers as without these staff the council could lose the in bloom groups.

Cllr Billing asked which coalition was being referred to by members, the Council or Central Government. He stated that he agreed with parts of the budget but not the whole. He asked if it was prudent for the council to not put a financial contingency in for the next year. He also asked about the value of £40,000 that was being spent on the wind farms.

Cllr Simpson stated that this was a difficult budget but he believed it was the right budget for that moment in time. He had had some concerns regarding the park rangers but this had now been through a full scrutiny review. He asked what were Labour’s alternatives to the budget and he asked that they attend the CFSG meetings to discuss the funding.

Cllr Ward stated that he had concerns about the budget as many members were still in the dark about many of the cuts. He understood some but not all of the reasons for the cuts and asked why the Mayoral budget was not being cut by more than 14%. He noted that the apparent savings from Manor Road had been taken out of the budget but he still believed that it would close.  He believed this based upon a conversation with the Portfolio Holder.
Cllr Bastiman stated that it has never been approved or otherwise that Manor Road was closing

Clle Cluer stated that the budget cuts were imposed by central government and were due to the problems with the banks which was due to a lack of regulation. She was concerned in relation to some of the proposed savings and asked if there were other ways of dealing with this.  She noted that in 2004 when the Agenda 21 Officer was deleted his duties were not taken on by other officers and she was worried that this would also happen again with the cuts.

Cllr Jefferson stated that she agreed with Cllr Cluer and she supported Manor Road and indicated she had not had a conversation with Cllr Ward in relation to Manor Road closure.  She noted that the £2500 had been removed from the report but the council did not know now much would be saved. She therefore proposed an amendment to the budget that the £21995 in the budget for contingency funds be put towards the cost of retaining a park ranger.   Cllr Purchon seconded Cllr Jefferson

On a point of information, Cllr Ward clarified that it was not Cllr Jefferson he had spoken with.

Cllr T Fox stated that there was now a proposal to use savings to reinstate a post but he did not think this was a viable option as there were a lot of myths that needed to be dealt with. He informed members that Park rangers cost £45000 per year to engage communities and patrol parks but 41% of their time was spent travelling. 24% of their time was spent at Manor Road nurseries. Park rangers also undertook educational visits that should be done by other officers. The rangers split their time as follows: 17% in Peasholm Park 5% in Whitby and 2% in Raincliffe Woods.  He had been contacted by a Mr Bradley in relation to Raincliffe Woods and had met with him.  He noted that Mr Bradley had shown him the problems at Raincliffe but Mr Bradley had not appreciated that the park rangers did not work after 10.00 pm at night. The incidents of arson in Raincliffe woods had not been logged by the park rangers. The service had not proven efficient or effective and duplicated the work of other services. The suggestion for the park rangers to be an efficiency saving came from their manager who could see that there were other officers who could carry out this work more efficiently.

Cllr Lawn seconded what Cllr Fox had said. He stated that the task group had found that there was a lot of duplication but that the friends groups wanted more engagement and therefore Mr Roger Burnett would now be the engagement officer for the council to work with these groups.

Cllr Dixon also agreed with Cllr Fox.  He noted that the draft financial strategy was presented to Cabinet ten days ago and since then there had been extra money found but this did not mean that you looked for ways to spend this money on the hoof. To recreate the role of park rangers at this time was not feasible. The review recognised what was of value in the park rangers’ role and this was being taken forward in another role. 

Cllr Jeffels stated that the council had to live in the real world with difficult finances and that the council had to work within its own limitations and to look for cost effectiveness and value for money. There was a lot of investment planned in the budget for the next few years. It would not be cost effective to keep the park rangers. The council had to work with the friends and in bloom groups and these people enhanced the quality of life in the borough.

Cllr Haycock stated that she was not against the budget but she was concerned that the government had made decisions very quickly and the council had to follow suit. Most of the concerns in the borough were from voluntary groups. In the very near future the council would need these voluntary groups and she was concerned about how they would survive. The council needed to focus on the creation of jobs.

Cllr Mortimer stated that she supported the budget but not Cllr Jefferson’s proposed amendment. The task group had found that the park rangers’ service was not good value and she did not like making ad hoc decisions. There could not be any sacred cows in the budget.  She asked that members participated in Corporate Strategy and Finance Group (CSFG) to develop the budget.

Cllr Broadbent spoke on the amendment and stated that he was totally against volunteers being taken on in place of park rangers in an enforcement role. The fear of crime that was important and the park rangers were valuable in relation to this.

Cllr Cockerill stated that a great deal of discussion had taken place at CFSG. He did not agree with the entire budget but could not suggest any alternate options so he would support the budget.

Cllr Ridley stated that there was a thorough review of the park rangers Service in the Overview and Scrutiny task and finish group and he would not be voting for the amendment

Cllr Purchon stated that she was on the task group but she would be supporting the amendment. She explained that there had been a great deal of vandalism in  Peasholm park before the park rangers were introduced.

Cllr Blackburn stated that Cayton had been in the finals of Britain in Bloom twice and noted the commitment there had been from parks and countryside. He felt that the new position of engagement officer would support the “In Bloom” groups.   When there had been problems in Cayton there had been no involvement from the park rangers. He would not be supporting the amendment.

Cllr Plant stated that the park rangers were established before Community Safety Officers were introduced. He stated that if only 5% of the park rangers’ time was in Whitby he did not think that was value for money.

Cllr Kenyon stated that before moving to the vote she would address the questions raised. She stated that Mr Edwards would give Cllr Watson details of the redundancy costs in a written response. With regard to Cllr Billing’s question about the wind farms budget of £40,000, she stated that this was pump priming to support job creation.

Regarding the Civic budget she stated that there was to be a review of the civic office to see how this could be delivered more efficiently and this may lead to the mayoralty changing in the future. She stated that there would be pain from the budget but recommended the budget

Council voted on the motion to amend the budget to include the contingency funding of £21,995 to provide partial funding for the park rangers’ service.

The amendment was lost, 28 against  this amendment and 11 voted for

Council voted on the report’s recommendation and there were 29 votes for and 11 votes against.

Cllr Kenyon rose to ask a point of information, she noted that Cllr Jefferson abstained from the vote albeit she was a member of the Cabinet which had proposed the budget.

Cllr Jefferson stated that she abstained due to the rejection of the amendment relating to the park rangers.

The Council tax resolution was thereafter put to the vote and supported unanimously.

RESOLVED that Council agreed:

1.        Council approve the proposed budget for 2011/12

2.         In accordance with Regulation 3 of the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992, made under Section 33(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Council Tax Base for 2011/2012 is 41,544.40.

3.         The following amounts be now calculated by the Council for the year 2011/2012 in accordance with Sections 32 to 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:-

                                                                                                                                    £

(a)        Aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates

            for the items set out in Section 32(2) (a) to (e) thereof.                     100,274,091

(b)        Aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates

            for the items set out in Section 32(3) (a) to (c) thereof.                       82,540,101

(c)        Calculation under Section 32 (4), being the amount by

            which the aggregate at 3(a) above exceeds the aggregate

            at 3(b) above.                                                                                        17,733,990

(d)                                       Aggregate of the sums payable for the year into the General

Fund in respect of:-

                                                                                                                                    £

Redistributed Non-Domestic Rates                                                                   6,840,784

Revenue Support Grant                                                                                      2,114,506

Total                                                                                                                    8,955,290

(e)        Estimated Council Tax Surplus                                                                      -

(f)         Calculation under Section 33(i), being the amount at 3(c)

            less the amount at 3(d) and 3(e), divided by the amount

            at 2, as the basic amount of Council Tax for the year.                                    211.31

(g)        Valuation Bands:

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

£

140.87

164.35

187.83

211.31

258.27

305.23

352.18

422.62

being the amounts given by multiplying the amount at 3(f) above by the number which is applicable to dwellings listed in a particular valuation band divided by the number which in that proportion is applicable to dwellings listed in valuation Band D, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 36(i) of the Act, as the amounts to be taken into account for the year in respect of categories of dwellings listed in different valuation bands.

4.         It be noted for 2011/2012 North Yorkshire County Council have stated the following amounts in precepts issued to the Council, in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, for each of the categories of the dwellings shown below:-

            Valuation Bands:

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

£

704.99

822.48

939.98

1,057.48

1,292.48

1,527.47

1,762.47

2,114.96

5.         It be noted for 2011/2012 North Yorkshire Police Authority have stated the following amounts in precepts issued to the Council, in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, for each of the categories of the dwellings shown below:-

            Valuation Bands:

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

£

136.37

159.09

181.82

204.55

250.01

295.46

340.92

409.10

6.         It be noted for 2011/2012 North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services have stated the following amounts in precepts issued to the Council, in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, for each of the categories of the dwellings shown below:-

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

£

41.40

48.30

55.20

62.10

75.90

89.70

103.50

124.20

7.         Having calculated the aggregate in each case of the amounts at 3(g), 4,5 and 6, the Council, in accordance with Section 30 (2) of the Local Government Finance Act, 1992, hereby sets the following amounts as the amounts of the Council Tax for 2011/2012 for each of the categories of dwellings shown below:-

            Valuation Bands:

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

£

1,023.63

1,194.22

1,364.83

1,535.44

1,876.66

2,217.86

2,559.07

3,070.88

Details of the Council Tax for each Band and each Parish area calculated in accordance with the above resolutions are shown in the attached Appendix to the report.

8.         In accordance with Section 35 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 it be resolved that the Council’s expenditure for the financial year 2011/2012 be treated as General Expenses.

COLLECTION AND RECOVERY

RESOLVED that:

1.         The statutory instalments scheme for payment of Council Tax and Business Rates requires ten instalments to be made available and the payment dates for instalments shall be the 1st of each month from April 2011 to January 2012.  For taxpayers who currently pay by direct debit, there will be an option to make payment on the 15th or the 25th of the month for the financial year 2011/2012.

The Council maintains an option to pay by one, two or four instalments on the basis that taxpayers who are not on the statutory scheme are at any point in time required to pay at least as much as they would have paid on that scheme.  The following instalment dates shall be operated in 2011/2012:

 

            One instalment           -           1st April

            Two instalments         -           1st April, 1st September

            Four instalments         -           1st April, 1st June, 1st September, 1st November

2.         The persons for the time being occupying the posts of Head of Finance and Asset Management, Revenues Manager, Income and Recovery Manager, Local Taxation Manager and Debt Recovery Performance Officer, appointed to the said offices under Section 112 and Section 223 of the Local Government Act 1972 be hereby authorised:-

(i)                  to collect and recover any rates payable in accordance with the provisions of Sections 41 to 67 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and any regulations made there under;

(ii)                to take proceedings for the recovery of rates in accordance with the regulations of Schedule 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and any regulations made there under;

(iii)               to collect and recover any Council Tax payable in accordance with the provisions of Sections 1-19 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and any regulations made there under;

(iv)              to take proceedings for the recovery of Council Tax in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 4 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and any regulations made there under.

 

Reasons:

Full Council is required approve the 2011/12 budget and associated Council Tax level, which are incorporated within the Financial Strategy. Council has consulted with the public and key stakeholders on its budget prior to it being proposed for approval, and has taken into consideration feedback received from this consultation in the approved proposals.

Supporting documents: