Arun District Council has agreed its budget for 2016 / 17 during a Special Council meeting at the Civic Centre this week (Tuesday, 23 February).
For the first time in six years council tax will rise so that the Council can maintain its financial support to a range of essential public services, despite an annual £1.1 million cut in government support.
The rise will allow the Council to invest in the district, which supports leisure, tourism and other local services for residents, visitors and businesses.
The council tax rise of 3.1 per cent equates to an extra 9.5p per week for an average Band D property meaning Arun District Council’s share of the council tax will remain below the national average.
At the meeting, Councillor Mrs Gillian Brown, Leader of Arun District Council, explained that the final Local Government Settlement, which was approved by the House of Commons on 10 February, changed the maximum Band D council tax increase that could be charged without needing a referendum from two per cent to £5 per annum for a district council.
She said: “This followed extensive lobbying by both the District Councils Network and the Local Government Association but the final decision by Central Government cam too late for this change to be debated at either Overview Select Committee or Cabinet.”
The proposal has been made to protect the vast range of local services which Arun residents benefit from, such as visible ones like refuse and recycling collection and street cleaning.
Other services being supported in the budget included homeless prevention, the Think Family Programme, (which offers support and help to vulnerable children and families with additional or complex needs) and the Community Safety team which works with the police to drive down crime and anti social behaviour.
Further key areas which will benefit from the 2016/2017 budget are environmental health, licensing, housing, revenues and benefits, parks and open spaces, planning, regeneration, wellbeing, leisure and building control.
Cllr Mrs Brown said: “The Council has always agreed and delivered budgets that give excellent value for money, and raising the council tax by this modest amount was a sensible decision for the Council to take and means that we can provide all our services at a cost of only £3.20 in total a week for a Band D property.
“I am also delighted that we are now moving forward with the project for a new, bigger and modern leisure centre for Littlehampton based on the existing seafront site costing in excess of £15 million and this follows on from the major refurbishment and extension of sporting facilities we have recently delivered at the Arun Leisure Centre.
“Whilst the Council has to plan carefully over the next few years as money will be tight, Arun always strives to provide good value for money and this budget ensures the Council can continue to deliver much needed front line services and also provide for a good level of capital investment covering a wide range of projects that support our agreed priorities.”
The rise will be introduced from April 2016 and the charge will be worked out on Arun District Council’s part of the council tax bill, raising an extra £286,000 a year to invest in services for the public.