THE Forest Council is preparing to ask local people what they think of 2.99 per cent increase in Council Tax which would add £5.80 to bills from next April.
But there is a possibility the government will allow a higher maximum figure without the need for a referendum – and the councillor in charge of finance says they would take it.
With no firm guidance yet from the government, the council is assuming the maximum increase it can make without the need for a referendum is three per cent or £5, whichever is higher.
But Cllr Richard Leppington (Progressive Alliance, Bream)told the council’s Cabinet: “It is our intention to take whichever is the greater of the two.
“If it changes – and a figure has been bandied about of potentially £10 – we would again take the larger amount.”
At its meeting last Thursday (December 8), the Cabinet agreed to start a month-long consultation on the Council Tax from December 23.
Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Paul Hiett (Progressive Alliance, Bream) said it was not the ideal time for a consultation but they authority had no control over the timetable.
In a statement released by the council, Cllr Leppington, the Cabinet member for finance, said: “We have seen significant cuts to our budget, and this year is no different, especially amid rising inflation.
"We are expecting these government cuts to carry through the coming years as economic recovery continues, but we are committed to continuing to deliver a high quality service for our residents.
“As part of the careful management of our finances we have improved the efficiency of our services and were able to save over £259,000 in 2022/23, and are predicting to save more than £340,000 in 2023/24.
“As part of our budget plans we are proposing that we continue to strive towards our goal of taking effective action in response to the climate emergency, ensuring that affordable housing is available for the people that need it most, helping local community groups to continue to provide fantastic services for residents in the Forest and ensuring that services such as our street warden team continue to operate effectively.
“This consultation is your chance to share your opinion and ask questions about the proposed budget for 2023/24. If you would like to have your say, please head to our website where you can find all the information you need.”
The council is responsible for a number of local services such as waste collection, planning, licensing, housing, parking and leisure with the county council delivering other services such as maintaining roads, adult social care, education, children’s services and public health.
The district council receives 10 per cent of the total bill with the rest being split between Gloucestershire County Council, the police and parish councils.
The consultation runs until January 20 and the council’s budget can be seen at www.fdean.gov.uk/budget.
The budget will be approved by the full council at its meeeting in February.