Council tax bill rise for Fremington parishioners
COUNCIL tax payers in Fremington will face a 2.5 per cent rise in the part of their bill which goes to the Parish Council at the start of the new financial year in April.
The rise comes after Parish Councillors voted to increase the parish precept, meaning someone in a band D property will pay an extra £1.21 each year.
But that's not the only hike taxpayers can expect to see in their council tax bill, with rises also likely to come from the other organisations that receive a share, including the Police and Fire authorities.
Changes to the way the Parish Council is supported by North Devon Council mean the parish has a reduced tax base for the next year.
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And although North Devon Council will grant fund the parish with just under £11,000 that means Band D taxpayers would face a rise of 38p a year in their bill just for the parish council's precept funding to remain static at £114,106.
And with the prospect of the grant no longer being in place next year and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles promising to "look very carefully" at the way parishes set their precepts Fremington councillors opted to increase the bill this year, since they may not be able to do so next year.
Not all councillors agreed the rise should be larger than the 38p necessary for funding to stay static though.
At Monday night's Parish Council meeting chairman Rodney Cann told councillors, "We have got to be brave tonight and face the situation as it is.
"We can take a political line but I think we've got to do what's best for the parish."
Brian Clifton said he didn't think it would be wise to up taxes to ensure the council can continue to take on schemes such as the enhancement of the village green and replacement of the Youth Club hut on Beechfield Road.
"I don't believe the most sensible thing to do," he said, "is say to the public ' this is what we want to do and this is what you've got to pay for it'.
"These projects, although they're applaudable, aren't essential.
"People are on stand still salaries and we're asking them to pay more for a new village green. I don't think it's a good idea.
"When I was a child if you had money you spent it and if you didn't you didn't. You cut your cloth accordingly."
Myka Scott asked Mr Clifton if he'd rather see children walking the streets before Mr Cann asked him which projects he'd withdraw from.
"I'm not saying we should withdraw from them," he replied, "but we should do them when we can afford to."
Frank Biederman said he didn't see an issue with raising taxes. "These percentages sensationalise it," he said. "If we put it up five per cent that's only a few pounds to someone in a band D property.
"It's all well and good saying don't spend money but we have young people in the parish who need something to do.
"When we didn't have a park around the corner anti social behaviour was through the roof.
"For the sake of a pound is it worth stopping all that?"
But Mr Clifton, who gained support from Chris Turner and Des Brailey, said: "Every year people say the same thing, 'it's only a pound'.
"We should be prepared to make some sacrifices."
But Ms Scott didn't agree.
"Why are we even talking about it," she said.
"Every year I expect a rise in council tax. We voted to put it up last year when it was my first year on the council, I thought that's just what we do.
"Do people really read through their bill and look at who's getting what?"
Eventually a compromise was reached, with Des Brailey moving that the precept be increased by 2.5 per cent.
"While I agree with both Brian and Frank," he said, "we're losing sight of the issue.
"This is being forced upon us, plus we're already 2.2 per cent behind because that's inflation.
"We have to make some hard decisions and look very carefully at all future investments."
Mr Brailey's motion was seconded by Mr Clifton and carried by six votes to four.