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Skipton Town Council defers budget decision
10:00am Friday 25th January 2013 in News
Town councillors have put off setting a budget and confirming next year’s precept - until Craven District Council decides on its own spending pot.
Skipton Town Council planned to set the amount council taxpayers would have to pay towards its services on Thursday.
But councillors were forced to postpone their decision until next month when it knows how much it will be getting from the Government, via the district council.
Coun Robert Heseltine said the situation was “unfortunate” and caused through no fault of the council.
“Our members have worked conscientiously to produce a stand-still budget for 2013-14. This is all related to the dire economic situation nationwide,” he said.
The town council has already set a budget which proposes no increase in spending, but the last minute changes by the government in the way the council tax benefit system works has meant that it faces having to increase the amount of the precept just to collect the same amount of money as last year.
Dave Parker, town council chief officer, said: “Councillors and officers have worked really hard this year to make sure that we set a budget where we didn’t have to increase our part of the council tax at a time when everyone is feeling the strain financially – but we now have a situation where, even if we keep the amount people pay exactly the same, the cash we will receive will drop by nearly £50,000.”
In an attempt to plug some of the shortfall faced by all town and parish councils, the government was providing a one-off grant to the district council to pass on to the smaller councils, he explained.
He said: “Unfortunately, Craven won’t be deciding until early February how much of this grant they will be passing on to the town council – and, for this reason, councillors decided to postpone a decision on setting the precept.
“The grant is only for one year, so the problem will come back again in 12 months’ time.
“It’s really frustrating when we have worked so hard to make savings and keep spending levels down that we’ve had this last-minute change thrown at us.”
Craven has indicated it will make a decision on the amount of the government grant it will be passing on to town and parish councils at a meeting on February 12.
The town council will then call a special meeting to look at the situation again and decide its precept, Mr Parker added.